Swedish massage : Origins

Swedish Massage first became popular in the United States during the early nineteenth-century after the settlement of Scandinavian immigrants. Although its basic practices have remained unchanged over the years, credit is seldom given to the founder of this technique, Per Henrink Ling (1776-1839), who was a doctor, teacher and poet. This is probably due to the fact that he was more recognized for his contribution to gymnastics through his "Medical Gymnastics" system, and for having taught the first school of gymnastics founded in Stockholm in 1814 and directed until 1836.


Ling's technique utilizes his knowledge of physiology and anatomy; concepts of the physical education of northern people; his experiences of movement as a fencing master; and his study on ancient massage techniques (used by gymnasts and doctors during the Greco-Roman times). A final element complements the basic rules of his approach: the power of the mind over the body. Nonetheless, his renowned design also led him to be criticized and badly-treated by some religious fanatics.

It was only in 1900 that the Swedish massage was recognized worldwide, not least because of his son Hjalmar who continued his legacy, but more-so because of Doctor Columbia Mathias Roth who published the first book in English outlining the foundations of the method.

Today, Swedish massage retains the basic movements developed by Per Henrink Ling but also incorporates other techniques adapted to the personal practice of each masseur.

Different phases are applied in a precise and logical order:
• strokes,
• pressings,
• kneading,
• friction,
• percussion,
• vibration.

Performed directly on the skin with essential oils, it aims to release tension in the muscles and joints encouraging greater relaxation and an improved range of motion.
This intricate and accurate technique is particularly recommended for athletes because it allows a deeper pressure into the tissue, relieving tired muscles, and promoting rapid recovery. It also stimulates blood and lymph circulation and eliminate toxins from our body.