Most of us heard the term of Swedish massage. It is so common in spas, but have you ever known anything about its origin and history? Or why is it called Swedish massage? Maybe you heard confusing things about its history. Do you know how has it come into being? Who made its techniques? You will find the clear answers in this content. It will help you to know what is exactly you get in therapy centers and spas.
Swedish massage or classic massage is a Western type of massage based on modern or Western conception of anatomy. Swedish massage is one of the oldest western massages which is very common today. In addition, it is the basis of other western types of massage. It consists of movements and touches on joints and tissue to cause relaxation, better circulation, flexibility and relief of pain.
The history of Swedish massage goes back to two European men: Johann Georg Mezger, a Dutch doctor known as the father of Swedish massage, invented the rules of the Swedish massage around 1868 but per Henrik Ling (1776-1839) a Swedish educator, is also known as the father of massage or traditional Swedish massage and Gymnastics.
The role of per Henrik Ling in the history of Swedish massage
Per Henrik Ling was suffering from physical sickness like gout, rheumatism and lung disease and this can be the motivation to be a medical pioneer in physical therapy and treating his diseases by fencing; but it was not enough. He realized the value of touch. So beside studying anatomy and medical physiology, he started practicing physical fitness and a system of medical Gymnastics. As a result, Ling developed the medical Gymnastics.
Gymnastics techniques like stretching, calisthenics and sports medicine plus some methods of massage are the content of medical Gymnastics. Fleming and Calvert mentioned in their books that these methods of massage are inspired by Chinese martial arts and “Tuina” which is a Chinese treatment. The goal is to relieve sore muscles, increase flexibility and to promote general health.
His system of medical Gymnastics recognized by the foundation of his Gymnastics institution. Some say since Sweden had lost its former territory in the 19th century, Ling tried to strengthen the Swedish population and opened the Gymnastics institution in 1813.
Since, Ling believed in the positive effects of exercise and massage, he attracted the physicians to his institute. Little by little, Swedish massage and exercise spread throughout the world. His idea had a great influence on health care in the 19th century. After that, every Swedish doctor was prescribing exercise and massage more than medicine.
Per Henrik Ling was awarded the Royal Swedish Academy for his great idea. His way is known as Swedish movements in Europe and the Swedish movement cure in the united states. Some claims that Ling’s system of massage is given from other therapists in China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Most massages practiced in west, to some extent, derived from Ling’s system. Despite these inconsistencies, it is obvious that the benefits of Swedish massage have helped many people until now.
What Johann Georg Mezger did in the history of Swedish massage
Johann Georg Mezger is known as the real founder of the Swedish massage. He was practicing Gymnastics like Ling. He studied medicine and beside practicing friction or French methods, wrote his thesis about friction as a treatment which became the basis for Swedish massage. The Ling’s system was simplified by Mezger. He developed the therapeutic techniques of Swedish massage and popularized the Ling’s system. These techniques include: Effleurage, Petrissage, Friction, Tapotement, Vibration (added later). He used the French terms to name the methods as they are originated from French techniques.
Effleurage is long sliding moves in the direction of blood to the heart. Petrissage works on the soft tissue by different movements like squeezing, rolling and kneading. Friction, Tapotement and vibration consist of movement to relax and energize the muscles.
Swedish massage arrived in the united states in 1858. Some doctors in different states of America practiced the Swedish massage and joined the cure movement: Baron Nils Posse Dr. George Taylor, Kurre Ostrom, Hartvig Nissen, Axel Grafstrom are the outstanding ones. Dr. Douglas O. Graham also has a role in spreading the Swedish massage in 1874 in this country.
Mezger became famous with his treatment which helped the king of Sweden in 1871 and asked by Europe’s Royal and Noble classes. The practitioners of the Swedish movement adopted his cure style in the late 19th century.
The history of Swedish massage goes back to the 1800s, but because of its benefits, it is still the most common massage practicing in therapy centers.