Massage involves working and acting on the body with pressure – structured, unstructured, stationary, or moving – tension, motion, or vibration, done manually or with mechanical aids. Massage can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, knees, forearm, feet, or a massage device. Depending on the application and technique used, massage is used to promote relaxation and well-being, and is beneficial in treating sports injuries and other problems affecting the musculature of the body such as postural misalignment and many painful conditions.
Swedish massage encourages relaxation of the body and mind with the use of 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. "
The development of Swedish massage is often inaccurately credited to Per Henrik Ling, though the Dutch practitioner Johann Georg Mezger applied the French terms to name the basic strokes.
Clinical research studies show 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.