Features of a Swedish massage include lubrication of the skin with massage oil and a series of massage strokes that are designed to promote relaxation. Swedish massages are conducted on massage tables, and the client is usually nude and covered by a towel or sheet. However, some choose to leave their underwear on.
Massage strokes commonly used in a Swedish massage include effleurage, petrissage, friction and tapotement. Effleurage is a type of stroke that is smooth and gliding, meant to relax the muscle tissue. Petrissage is a squeezing, rolling and kneading motion that comes after the relaxing technique. Friction consists of a deep circular movement. This causes layers of tissue to rub against each other, which increases blood flow and breaks down scar tissue.
Tapotement is a short and alternating tapping motion performed with cupped hands or fingers. Swedish massage also includes movement of the joints and can help certain injuries. This is the most common type of massage as of 2015. It is known to be relaxing as well as energizing.
Swedish massage therapists can focus on parts of the body that need more attention or do full-body massages. The therapist usually consults the client beforehand to discuss any areas that need attention or places that need to be avoided.