Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2009

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IS SWEDISH MASSAGE DEAD? spa and aromatherapy programs for a number of schools on the East and West Coasts and remains active in massage continuing education, with seminars on stone massage, aromatherapy, spa therapies, refl exology, and ayurveda-inspired bodywork. As ABMP's director of education, her primary focus is to support massage schools, instructors, students, and professionals with useful tools and resources. Her textbook Spa Bodywork was published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW) in 2007 and she spearheaded Teaching Massage for ABMP and LWW in 2008. Contact her at Anne Williams, BFA, LMP, CHT, founded Joint movements. Movements like fl exion, extension, abduction, and adduction performed as part of the massage. Photos by Rick Giase Photography. Uniform courtesy of INSIDE US ALL Six months ago, I started on an important journey. I set out to decide if Swedish massage was alive or dead. Along the way, I learned some meaningful lessons about myself as a massage therapist and about our vibrant profession. In the end, I don't think the integration of techniques occurring in massage is a bad thing. In fact, massage has never been more dynamic, creative, and beautiful. The problem is that we are calling our hybrid massages Swedish, when, in fact, they are something very different. Let's think of a new term for this integrated massage (hey, what about integrated massage?) and help clients distinguish between Swedish and hybrid systems. Swedish massage is alive in all of us. We simply need to view it again as a stand-alone system with a particular progression of strokes that doesn't need to be dressed up with other techniques. How would it impact the massage profession if we practiced Swedish in its purest form? Think of what that kind of consistency would mean for massage clients let alone the research implications it would have. Right now, Swedish refers to anything and everything; clients can't depend on it. Let's give them something to depend on and let's give ourselves back an art form that is a fundamental part of our massage tradition. So, here it comes: I challenge each of you to go out and ask for a classic Swedish massage and see what you get. Then, I challenge each of you to give your very best Swedish massage to one of your regular clients (using no techniques from other massage systems) and see what they say. Then, let's broaden this discussion by sharing our fi ndings on Massageprofessionals. com. Maybe our discussion will help us fi nd ways to keep Swedish alive so that it is still practiced, in a pure form, long after we have left massage to future generations. NOTES 1. Swedish massage is a massage system formalized by Per Henrik Ling (1776–1839) of Sweden and Dr. Johann Mezger (1839–1909) of Holland and brought to the United States by Charles and George Taylor in the 1800s. Swedish massage consists of fi ve types of strokes, their variations, and joint movement techniques. The fi rst strokes are effl eurage (stroking), petrissage (kneading), friction (rubbing), vibration (a tremor- like oscillating stroke), and tapotement (tapping). Joint movements are categorized as active (the client does the action), passive (the therapist moves the client), and resisted (the therapist resists the client's movement to build strength). Swedish strokes are applied at a depth and vigor most appropriate for the individual clients to achieve a variety of eff ects and benefi ts, including increased relaxation, increased local circulation and lymphatic fl ow, decreased adhesions, improved muscle tone, and improved range of motion. 2. D. Guthrie, A History of Medicine, 2nd ed. (London: Nelson and Sons, 1958). 3. J. Burckhardt, A History of Greek Culture (Mineola, NY: Dover Publication Inc., 2002). 4. D. Graham, Manual Therapeutics, A Treatise on Massage: Its History, Mode of Application and Eff ects, 3rd ed. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1902). 5. R. Porter, Cambridge Illustrated History of Medicine (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996). 6. W. Osler, The Evolution of Modern Medicine (Whitefi sh, MT: Kessinger Publishing, 2004). 7. Robert Noah Calvert, The History of Massage: An Illustrated Survey from Around the World (Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2002). 8. K. Ostron, Massage and the Original Swedish Movements (Upsala, Sweden: P. Blakiston's Son and Company, 1902). 9. R.T. Mckenzie, Exercise in Education and Medicine (Philadelphia: WB Sanders CO, 1909). connect with your colleagues on 45

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