Article | Category: Glossary Terms

The most commonly offered and best known type of massage. Devised at the University of Stockholm in 1812 by Henri Peter Ling, this technique employs five different movements (long strokes; kneading of individual muscles; percussive, tapping movement; rolling of the fingers; and vibration) and oils beneficial to the skin. Used to improve the circulation, ease muscle aches and tension, improve flexibility and create relaxation.

Swedish massage is done with the person covered by a sheet, where each part of the body to be worked on is exposed in turn and then re-covered. The massage practitioners use kneading, stroking, friction, tapping and even shaking motions. Oil is used to reduce or eliminate friction and to facilitate making long, smooth, kneading stokes over the tissue and muscles of the body.




Other Names:

Relaxation Massage, Stress Relief Massage, Classic Massage, Traditional Massage


Description of Offering

The swedish massage is the most popular massage known around the world, and includes five stroke techniques that differ from light to medium, firm pressure.


This offering is a modern creation (originated after 1800).


Creator of Offering (Nationality)

Pehr Henrik Ling (Swedish)


Brief History of the Offering

The swedish massage was created in the 18th century by Per Henrick Ling, who incorporated his knowledge of physiology and gymanstics, along with Chinese, Roman, Greek, and egyptian techniques. This massage is a full body treatment and includes long strokes, kneading motions, friction, as well as stretching.  Originally called the Swedish Movement Cure.


Fun Fact

The Swedish massage is the most common massage offered at spas all around the world.




Primary Benefit Received

Stress Reduction


Other Benefits

Enhance Muscle Tone, Sense of Escape/Solitude, Increase Circulation in Body, Pain Reduction


Research Publication

The effectiveness of Swedish massage and traditional Thai massage in treating chronic low back pain:  A review of literature

Netchanok, Wendy, Marie & Siobhan

Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice (2012), 18, 227-234


Primary Findings of Research

Six papers meet the inclusion criteria and were summarized and reviewed. Both Thai and  Swedish massages are reported to relieve chronic low back pain by enhancing physical functions;  providing pain relief, improving disability and range of motion, improving psychological functions;  reducing anxiety and improving mood. Although based on different theoretical frameworks, they appear to be equally effective in relieving chronic low back pain.




Typical Length of Offering

45 - 60 minutes


The offering is most often provided one guest at a time.


Offering is primarily suited for:

Day Spa (wellness focus), Resort/Hotel/Cruise Ship Spa, Destination Spa, Medical Clinic/Spa, Hospital/Rehabilitation Center, Club Spa (day or residential)


How many treatment providers are needed to produce the offering?



Common License/Certification or Training necessary to provide the offering:

Massage Therapist (general training), Physical Therapist,


Information about the most often used offering protocol

The complete spa book for massage therapists

Capellini, Steve

Chapter 9 - Spa Massage (2012), 275-276


Type of space/facility most often used for the offering:

Private Dry Treatment Room


Type of space/facility that can be use for the offering:

Private Wet Treatment Room (Vichy, Baths, Watsu Pool, etc.)

How many towels are used?

3 - 6


Does the guest generally use a robe and/or a wrap for the offering?

Yes, wrap only.


How many sheets are used?

2 - 4


Does the offering require the use of products (i.e. lotions, lacquers, scrubs, cleansers, etc.)?



How many different products are used?

1 - 3


Approximate product cost per treatment:

$5 USD


Products used:

Lotion, oil, essential oils (optional)


Does the offering require the use of disposable supplies (i.e. cotton squares, balls and swabs, lancets, etc.)?



Equipment and supplies needed to provide the offering:

Raised Massage-style Table, Supply Trolley (or table top surface), Hot Towel Unit (Cabinet), Hot Product/Tool Warmer (typically for stones, wax, paraffin, etc.), Massage Tools (stones, thumb protector, cups, etc.), Pillow(s)/Bolster(s), Blanket(s),


Beyond labor, linens, disposable supplies and products, please list any other direct costs associated with the offering?



Including only the following items (products, disposable items, linen laundry, and other direct costs---not labor), what is the typical cost of the offering?

$5 - $15 USD


Typical single session price of the offering.

$60 - $175 USD




Publication used to prepare this submission.

What is a swedish massage?

Anitra Brown (2016)


LaVida Massage

Relaxation/Swedish Massage (2017)


Swedish Massage Techniques

Julie Onofrio (2013)


The Benefits of Swedish Massage

James Mulcahy

Livestrong (2015)


Author Information

Madison Droz

Florida Gulf Coast University


Author Biography

Madison is a student at FGCU studying Resort and Hospitality Management with a Concentration in Spa Management.


Editor Information:

Mary Wisnom

Professor, School of Resort & Hospitality Management, Florida Gulf Coast University, USA