Swedish massage is a type of massage therapy that’s primarily known for its relaxation effects. With this technique, a massage therapist targets muscles with a combination of friction, gliding strokes, and kneading.
Also known as classical massage, this technique is the most common form of massage therapy in Western countries. It’s also considered a core technique that led to the creation of other types of massage therapy.
Read on to learn about what the science says about this massage therapy technique.
Like other types of massage therapy, a Swedish massage is promoted as a way to temporarily alleviate pain and help you relax. Below are 12 possible benefits of Swedish massage, as well as information about related clinical research.
May treat low back pain
While Swedish massage may help with low back pain, there’s conflicting scientific evidence regarding its benefits.
Some research suggests that massage therapy in general provides only temporary relief, according to the
However, this may not be an ideal treatment for chronic low back pain, as determined by one
May treat neck pain
As with low back pain, Swedish massage may reduce neck pain, but only temporarily. One key finding in a 2016 review found that people were more likely to benefit from this massage if they attended frequent and long sessions, according to the
May treat shoulder pain
Swedish massage may also offer short-term relief from shoulder pain, per the
May treat fibromyalgia
Some studies have found massage therapy can help alleviate fibromyalgia pain, as well as anxiety and depression. However, there’s conflicting evidence regarding Swedish massage more specifically, the
May treat headaches
If you’re seeking massage therapy for headaches, it’s important to know that it hasn’t been as widely studied in a clinical setting as other forms of pain therapy.
However, according to the
May treat anxiety
The possible relaxing effects of massage are promoted for stress management, but research also suggests that massage therapy may help alleviate anxiety. Such benefits have also been linked to anxiety associated with HIV and AIDS, as well as fibromyalgia, per the
However, the long-term benefits of Swedish massage for anxiety are up for debate.
May lower blood pressure
Swedish massage may decrease blood pressure related to anxiety, according to the
May improve sleep quality
Relaxation techniques are recommended for sleep disorders, particularly those related to anxiety, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America. If Swedish massages help you relax, you may consider regular sessions to decrease anxiety and stress.
Over time, you might find improvements in sleep. However, more clinical research is needed to determine whether Swedish massage can actually help improve sleep.
May treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Relaxation techniques, such as massage therapy, are also promoted by health professionals to help ease symptoms of PMS such as fatigue and mood shifts. Still, more clinical research is needed to determine whether Swedish massage can specifically address these PMS symptoms.
May treat symptoms of depression
The overall benefits of massage therapy to your mood may also help address symptoms of depression. While the NCCIH notes that research has supported such benefits on a smaller scale, larger studies are needed to explore the effects of Swedish massage on depression.
May provide cancer symptom relief
While more evidence is needed, the
May improve circulation
A classical massage may improve circulation in the body,
Still, this research is older, and more clinical studies are needed to look at this benefit. You should also use caution if you have a history of blood clots.
If you’re looking for short-term pain relief and temporary relaxation, you could benefit from a Swedish massage.
Long-term effects on pain and anxiety may possibly be achieved with regular sessions.
Research from 2016 also identified massage as a better alternative to long-term pain medications. Other 2016 research has asserted that massage therapy is preferable to no treatment for chronic pain.
While massage therapy is widely regarded as safe when done by a professional, risks still exist. Possible side effects include:
- blood clots
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, it’s safe to get a massage while pregnant — if you take certain precautions. In fact, getting a massage can help improve your circulation and mood during this time.
Tell your massage therapist that you’re pregnant so they are better able to accommodate your needs. For example, they may have you lie on your side instead of the traditional facedown position.
While Swedish massage is the most common form of massage therapy, it isn’t your only option. Other massage therapies that may address more specific needs include:
- deep tissue massage, where your therapist applies more pressure to your muscles
- aromatherapy massage, which uses essential oils either in a diffuser or on the skin during a Swedish or deep tissue massage
- sports massage, which is more tailored to injuries and soreness related to your regular physical activities
- trigger point massage, where your therapist targets specific areas in muscles that may be related to chronic pain
- chair massage, which may be ideal if you are short on time and looking to address issues in your neck and shoulders
Swedish massage is the most common form of massage therapy in the United States. This classic technique targets muscles in ways that promote relaxation and possible short-term pain relief.
While there are numerous purported benefits of Swedish massage, more research is needed to conclusively determine whether this type of therapy can help on a long-term basis.
Consider regular Swedish massage sessions as complementary therapies to any other treatments or as recommended by a doctor.