During a Swedish massage, a client lays unclothed (underwear optional) on a massage bed, draped between two sheets, says Amy Montia, PhD, LMT, and medical-massage practitioner at Physio Logic. A therapist needs to know all of the client’s medical conditions, medications, allergies, and injuries, past and present, to individualize a session for pressure and focus.
While there’s no standard order for a Swedish massage, Minehan says a therapist might begin with the back, move to the legs and feet, followed by the shoulders, arms, and hands, ending with the neck, head, and face. During a Swedish massage, the therapist directs their glide to move from the extremities toward the heart and lymph nodes, says Montia. The massage pace and pressure may vary depending on the therapist’s style and the client’s needs.
“I begin my session with light, broad compression to the whole body to activate sensory receptors and get the blood and lymph fluid moving,” says Montia. A signature Swedish massage style uses “thin, slippery oil and lighter pressure to glide along the skin, and gently knead and chop muscles and connective tissue,” she says.