The most widely recognized and commonly used category of massage is the Swedish massage in the Western world. The Swedish massage techniques vary from light to vigorous. Swedish massage uses five styles of strokes. The five basic strokes are effleurage (sliding or gliding), Petrissage (kneading), tapotement (rhythmic tapping), friction (cross fiber or with the fibers) and vibration/shaking. Swedish massage has shown to be helpful in reducing pain, joint stiffness, and improving function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee over a period of eight weeks (Robertshawe P, 2007). The development of Swedish massage is often inaccurately credited to Per Henrik Ling, though the Dutch practitioner Johann George Mezger applied the French terms to name the basic strokes. The term “Swedish” massage is actually only recognized in English and Dutch speaking countries, and in Hungary. Elsewhere the style is referred to as “classic massage”.
Clinical studies report that Swedish Massage can effectively reduce low back pain and the effectiveness can last for as long as 15 weeks. One study reported that Swedish Massage caused reduction in salivary cortisol indicating its role in management of stress and improvement in mood. (Lafferty D, Hodgson NA 2012; O’Dwyer S, Sritoomma N, 2014).