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Our guide to Swedish massage courses

With the ever growing stresses of daily life, it is becoming increasingly important for people to take time to relax, and what better way to do this than having a massage? Swedish massage is based on the Western concepts of anatomy and physiology, and unlike most Asian styles of massage, it is not based on energy work. It is the most common and widespread style of massage in the Western world. In taking a Swedish massage course, not only will you learn the specific techniques and train to be a massueuse, you’ll get to have a lot of freebie massages yourself from fellow students! 


History of Swedish massage

Swedish massage was first developed in the 19th century and is often accredited to Swedish physiologist Per Henrik Ling, however it was actually Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger who adopted the French names for the five basic strokes used in Swedish massage.  The first college to teach Swedish massage was established in Stockholm in 1813 and it later spread throughout Europe. By 1894 Swedish massage was widely accepted as a professional occupation and as an accepted form of medical treatment. The term Swedish massage is actually only known in English and Dutch speaking countries; in all other countries, including Sweden, it is known as classic massage.


What does a Swedish massage involve?

Swedish massage is considered to be a full body massage as it works on all the major muscle groups in the body. Swedish massage is made up of five main, basic strokes which use long, gliding techniques in the direction of blood returning to the heart. The aim is to target muscles and blood flow and alleviate any ache or pains. There are different types of Swedish massage depending on the type of masseuse that you go to; deep tissue massage and sports massage are both types of Swedish massage. Some of these can be more relaxing and gentle while others, such as a deep tissue massage, can be more intense.


The five strokes of Swedish massage

Effleurage: This includes long strokes that go from neck down to the base of the spine and also from the shoulders down to the finger tips. These strokes go towards the heart in order to aid blood flow.

Petrissage: This is a deeper type of stroke that aims at pushing the muscle to alleviate tension. This involves a kneading and squeezing motion and smoothes out any lumps.

Tapotement: Rhythmic tapping with the hand aims at releasing tight and cramped muscles. Often administered by using a karate chop technique and is often used at the end of a massage as it helps to stimulate and wake up the body.

Friction: Using circular motion, friction is applied to the body in order to help stimulate muscles, soothe sore muscles, and improves the flexibility of muscles.

Vibration or shaking: Rhythmic and rapid shaking of the body is by far the most relaxing massage technique. This technique leads to pain relief and relaxation, try not to fall asleep.


What will I learn on the course?

On a Swedish massage course you will be taught everything about Swedish massage, from learning how to prepare for body, to which oils to use and the techniques involved in Swedish massage. Once you have gone through the techniques you will be able to partner up with someone else on the course and take it in turns to massage each other using the techniques you have learnt. The tutor will give you one on one advice on how you can improve your massage.

Not only does this mean that you will learn how to give Swedish massages, but it also means you will receive one. This will give you time to relax and if the other person has learnt properly, then you should be able to receive a high quality massage.


Can I have a career in Swedish massage?

Many of the Swedish massage courses on our list are actually designed to help train you and give you the qualifications needed to become a Swedish masseuse. There are many courses that offer qualifications by the Vocational Training Charitable Trust (VTCT), such as level three awards, and these will make you a qualified Swedish masseuse.


The top 10 benefits of Swedish massage

Helps you to relax, both mentally and physically.

Increases blood circulation.

Alleviates muscle aches and pains.

Can help to improve posture.

Reduces stress levels.

Relieves stiff joints.

Improves and maintains the mobility of bones.

Can improve the flexibility of muscles.

The relaxation can help prevent anxiety and depression.

Stimulation and blood flow helps to maintain and improve appearance of the skin.

Swedish massage course reviews and other useful articles

Swedish massage reviews - what others are saying about Swedish massage

Awe Inspiring, Professional and Exceptional!!

Where: Middlesex School Of Complementary Medicine

What: Massage Diploma Level 3 (ITEC)

by KC - September 2014

The moment I sat in one of their taster days nine years ago, I was struck by the passion of the tutors and the realisation that my ?non realistic? dream of being a massage therapist was in fact very realistic, achievable and exciting! I wanted to learn to massage properly and be able to actually help people that had ailments not just "pamper them" with a set routine. MSCM give you the tools and the training to be that type of therapist. Over the last nine years, I have trained with MSCM for ITEC diplomas in Anatomy and Physiology, Massage, Indian head, Reflexology and loads of other bits too! Every course is presented within a relaxed atmosphere but you work hard & learn well. From the basics of towel management to the brain confusing anatomy of the body, they?ve got the training so perfect that I feel it made it all seem almost easy. I?ve always been able to go into exams knowing that it would have to be a really bad day for me to fail as you are taught to such a high standard, it?s almost impossible to not do well. All of the tutors have passion for what they teach and that has always inspired me. I guess the other important thing to say is that I now have a very busy, thriving business with customers that return regularly, some of whom have been clients now for over 6 years.... you don?t get that if you?re no good at your basics and in order to keep that going, I will be starting another of their excellent post grad courses in October to make me an even more awesome therapist!

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Expert views on Swedish massage

ITEC level 3 certificate in Stone Therapy Massage

Q. What qualifications route did you take to realise your career? I already had 20 years training experience in the Hotel & Catering sector and decided on a change of career. I started with an ITEC diploma in Holistic Massage and then broadened my portfolio with 6 more

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Related careers: Massage Therapist

Massage therapy is the therapeutic use of touch by hands, elbows or feet on the body. There are many different systems of massage but it is commonly used to help physical or emotional problems. Many massage therapists prefer to use a holistic approach, as they believe that emotional or personal problems lead to physical conditions such as stiffness or tension. A common type of massage is body massage (also known as Swedish massage) which covers the whole body, especially the limbs and back. There are many specialised branches of massage including Indian head...more

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