Over on our Facebook page, we often get asked questions about massage, skin care and general health and wellbeing.
One of our newer clients Amy, asked a great question and I thought it would be a good one to respond to here on the blog as the answer will most likely help others.
This is a great question Amy, it’s also one that comes up quite often, so thanks so much for reminding me to address it for you and others who may be wondering what the differences are too. I’m going to try to answer simply but completely below however, if you (or anyone else reading) have any further questions anytime, please feel free to call, contact or comment or join us over on Facebook to continue the conversation.
“I know all your massage therapists are trained in multiple styles and that you offer various massage techniques, but I’m not sure what the differences between the massage styles actually are, so it’s difficult if not impossible for me to decide which is the best one for me.
Would you please explain should I get a Swedish or European massage? A friend said they’re the same thing but I’m not sure.”
Amy – York County VA
Swedish or European Massage – Is there a difference?
Swedish massage, is in fact the same style as and often referred to as European massage. It’s probably the most commonly known massage therapy style, providing a simple, relaxing technique with fantastic benefits for overall well-being.
Primarily defined by the style of stroke applied, Swedish/European massage has five basic styles of sliding and gliding type strokes. If you want to get a little technical, they’re called ‘effleurage’ which is a fancy French word meaning ‘to skim’ or ‘light touch’.
The main purpose of this light, skimming touch is to warm up the muscles and encourage the veins and lymphatic systems to return blood to the heart.
Then there is ‘petrissage’ which are the kneading, wringing and light squeezing techniques most people associate with massage. These movements are slightly deeper with some applied pressure designed to compress the underlying muscles.
Tapotement (another French reference meaning to tap or drum) is a stroke specific to Swedish massage and most easily recognized by its rhythmic application with the edge or a cupped hand and sometimes with just the tips of the fingers.
There are five types of tapotement, beating (gently) with a closed fist, slapping (using the fingers to gently slap, hacking (uses the edge of hand a little like a gentle karate chop) and cupping (a cupped hand used to tap an area).
Tapotement is really meant to “wake-up” and stimulate the nervous system. It can release lymphatic build up so it’s most commonly used on the back of legs, shoulders and lightly on the lower back.
The American Heart Association has reported extensively on the benefits of massage generally and specifically of Swedish massage in managing and in some cases significantly reducing blood pressure, heart rate and vascular endothelial adhesion in women with hypertension.
The AMA study subjects had a Swedish massage once a week for four weeks. Results evidenced significant benefits for both men and women with hypertension, without taking any medication.
At The Giving Tree Spa we believe in encompassing as many senses as possible during massage services, so soothing and relaxing music is an integral part of your overall experience. It’s always an option to add aromatherapy to your massage service and there are additional skin conditioning benefits from the use of aromatherapy oils too.
Our Signature Swedish/European massage is probably the most relaxing therapy. It’s a gentler massage style that’s ideal for first timers or those who just want to enjoy a comfortable, relaxing and soothing massage experience. Once you’re more accustomed with how your body responds to massage you may choose to try Reflexology, Deep Tissue or a combination service to incorporate higher pressure therapies used with deep tissue muscle work.
When clients show up well informed as to what they want and need, it helps us help you get the most from your massage. By taking the time to understand the various styles of massage, you’ll be better informed and ready to discuss any specific expectations. Our therapists are always happy to discuss your specific needs and make recommendations as to the best service or combination of therapies when you make a reservation.
So there you go Amy, I hope this response was complete without getting too technical for you and others to find it helpful. You certainly don’t need to be able to recall the specifics of any of the strokes (that’s your therapists job 🙂 ) and I promise there won’t ever be a pop-quiz when you come in, but we do hope you’ll come visit us for a massage soon!
At The Giving Tree Day Spa, our therapists are all fully licensed and always ready to discuss, accommodate and adjust a massage service to ensure optimal results specifically for you.
How To Make A Reservation
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If that all feels a little too hi-tech for your taste…
Don’t worry, we also schedule appointments the good old fashioned way by phone at
(757) 207 9642