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What Is Swedish Massage— Really?


If you have heard massage therapists talk about Swedish massage but are unsure just what that means, you are not alone. The term is so confusing that many massage practices have started using terms like therapeutic massage and relaxation massage to describe the technique and avoid confusion.

While the term Swedish massage may conjure up images of a tall, blonde Bjorn pounding on your back, the term actually comes from the nationality of the technique's originator, Per Henrick Ling. It is characterized by the application of firm but gentle pressure on the more superficial muscles, which presses them against the deeper muscles and bone in order to induce relaxation to the tissues. Swedish is the most popular form of massage in the world.

There are five essential techniques in Swedish massage with a sixth added by some. The first is effleurage, which is a long, gliding stroke whose purpose is to improve lymphatic flow and circulation and to warm and relax the tissues. Next is petrissage, a kneading stroke that rolls and lifts the muscles and pulls them away from the bones. Third is friction, which employs small circular pressure to muscles to release knots and adhesions. After friction comes vibration, a techniques that shakes or vibrates the body to stimulate circulation. Tapotement includes percussion movements such as hacking, cupping, and tapping. The final (added) stroke includes bending and traction whereby the tissues are gently stretched and mobilized.

One reason that Swedish massage is so popular is that it benefits every major system of the body in some way. Primarily, it relieves physical, emotional and mental stress. It releases accumulated toxins from the tissues and flushes them out of the kidneys, lymphatics, and circulatory system. It increases oxygen flow throughout the body without adding a work load burden to the heart.

Swedish massage also soothes the nervous system and helps clients manage pain by releasing endorphins, the feel-good hormones, into the blood-stream. It can improve digestion and relieve edema or swelling.

Another reason for the popularity of Swedish massage is that it can be individualized to the client's specific needs by varying the strokes and the degree of pressure of the strokes from very light to deeper and heavier. Indeed, Swedish massage forms the foundation for several other massage modalities, including sports massage and deep tissue massage, and it is easily combined with other modalities to give the client a truly personalized experience.

The regular cost for a one hour Swedish massage session at Body Balance II is $60. First-time clients get a $5 discount (includes gift certificates.) To schedule your Swedish massage session or purchase a gift certificate, please call Suzanne at 828-315-9900.


Tips for Beating Holiday Stress

snowflakes and ornaments on red

During the holidays, it is easy to overdo and get stressed so that we find ourselves short-tempered and worn-out from all the hustle and bustle. Then we stop enjoying the season and begin to long for it to be over soon.

The following are some tips that can help you enjoy this special season more fully:

The image of the snowflakes and ornaments above is by Maple at FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Click the link to the left or the photo for more of Maple's work. Used by permission.


Essential Oils of the Month:
Frankincense & Myrrh

Adoration of the Magi by  Andrea_Mantegna. The Wise Men of the Christmas story brought the baby Jesus three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. While most of us recognize the value of gold, we may not realize that both frankincense and myrrh, though expensive gifts, were valued higher than gold in Biblical times. These gifts, frankincense and myrrh, were extremely practical for Mary and her new son.

Frankincense and myrrh are aromatic resins derived from incense trees and shrubs found in Arabia and Africa. Frankincense comes from the genus Boswellia, and myrrh comes from the genus Commiphora.

Both frankincense and myrrh are highly antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral. Their medicinal, religious, and cosmetic properties made them especially appropriate gifts for Mary and Jesus.

Myrrh, which was more costly than either gold or frankincense, is highly soothing to the skin. It can be applied to a newborn's umbilical cord to prevent infection and was often used on the new mother after she gave birth for the same reason. It is said to help the new mother expel stagnant blood from the uterus. It is today widely used as an astringent treatment for the gums, teeth, and mouth. Mary might have used myrrh on her teething baby's gums to numb pain. It is also good for strep throat, tonsillitis, and mouth ulcers.

Myrrh has antiparasitic properties and would have been used to keep the infant/toddler from getting worms. It is calming to the gut and might have been used for colic and a variety of stomach bugs. Myrrh is a stimulant, expectorant and decongestant and would have been used when the young Jesus had a cold or respiratory infection.

Frankincense also was used in the childbirth process. Its smoke helped calm a woman while she was in labor, and during the forty days after birth, the newborn was fumigated by frankincense smoke. Likewise, for the forty day period, the mother squatted over a bowl of burning gum to purify herself. This process assisted in the healing of lacerations and scars, protected against infections, and restored muscle tone.

Today, frankincense is primarily known for its use as a fragrance. Its scent is said to uplift the spirit and its supposed to be pleasing to God. Its smoke may be antiseptic to the air and repels insects. It was certainly prized as perfume in the hot, Palestinian climate. It is well-known for its use a temple incense, and it was used in anointing oils. For example, frankincense was rubbed on the entire body of a newborn king. Women of wealth used it on their hair to make it shine, give it a pleasant scent, and hold it in place. People also chewed the resin to give their breath a pleasant clean smell.

However, frankincense also has medicinal properties. The ancients said that frankincense resin and essential oils were a panacea for all ills. It promotes rapid healing of wounds, bruises, and scars when applied locally. It also heals respiratory infections, and a few drops of frankincense essential oil rubbed on the palms and inhaled can open the sinuses. It can be used on a hot compress and placed on the chest to open the lungs. It is widely used today for its anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties. Obviously, it was a practical gift for a new mother and her baby.

When combined, the two can ease postpartum abdominal pain. They have similar abilities to heal respiratory infections and might have been combined to make plasters, poultices, and tonics. Similarly, they are often combined to make a tincture for treating wounds.

Symbolically, the two are said to prefigure the crucifixion. They were used at funerals-- frankincense as incense and myrrh as an embalming aid. Myrrh was also used in wine to numb pain. It is bitter, and it is likely that it was used in the drink offered to Jesus when he was on the cross. (Gall is a poorer quality of myrrh.)

For more information on frankincense and myrrh essential oils, click here: Frankincense & Myrrh or here: Frankincense.

Tapestry Life Resources and Massage Therapy carries two brands of essential oils— Ancient Wisdom Essential Oils and Aura Cacia. Both companies produce high quality oils. Please call 828-315-9900 for more information.

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For Email Newsletters you can trust

Dec. 2008

In This Issue

purple spiral

mother reading to children

Recommended Reading: Seasonal Suggestions

It seems like everyone I know is reading this book and talking about it. The Shack is about a man who returns to the scene of his daughter's murder and encounters God. It has been described as a parable, and it is certainly a book that will move you and make you think. Whether you love it or hate it, it calls to mind how God is present even during the worst tragedies of our lives.

I read this book the first time years ago and am now rereading it. Brennan gives the best description of the human aura and of energetic healing I've ever encountered. I was amazed by it 20 years ago and am amazed by it now. No wonder it has become a classic.

My nieces fight over these cookbooks, so I bought the older niece her own set for Christmas. Then I bought myself this one. It includes Deen's two individual cookbooks, but I like it better because the index combines the two and the page numbers don't restart with the second book. I also like the hard cover. If you like Southern cooking, you'll like this cookbook.

Every year it seems that Evans puts out a new Christmas story. This one may be his best. The setting is during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the protagonist is a 14 year old boy who hides Grace, a runaway whom he found in his backyard clubhouse dumpster-diving for food. It is a story of first love and fearful times, and yet it avoids the sappy sentimentality that sometimes characterizes Evans' stories. It is sweet, but not too sweet. Maybe it is because Evans really captures the voice of a 14 year-old boy who is coming-of-age. Make this your seasonal Christmas read.

TLR logo
Copyright 2008
Suzanne H. Eller

Note: This version of Warp & Weft includes articles and information not found in the joint version with Hickory Massage Therapy. The joint version, which was sent to clients through Constant Contact, and had specials and pricing information not included here. You can subscribe to the Constant Contact version, now in collaboration with Body Balance II Therapeutic Massage, below.


Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

snow on trees

It is the Christian season of Advent, a time of preparation for Christmas Day that more often than not seems rushed and hurried rather than reminding us of Mary's waiting.

With the economy creating serious difficulties for many folks in our area, we hope to offer in this newsletter some tips for stress-relief and for rediscovering the truest meaning of the holiday season--Love shared with others.

The shorter daylight hours and hectic schedule necessitated by shopping, parties and gatherings, family obligations, helping those less fortunate, cooking and cleaning, and school and community events (the list could go on), make finding "down time" difficult in December.

Still, we need to be reminded that if we don't take care of ourselves, we are little value when trying to help and/or enjoy others. This issue has some suggestions for self-help during the holiday season, including an article on Swedish massage, the best choice for pure relaxation.

You might also want to think of us when you choose a gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list. A gift certificate for massage and bodywork is a great way to wish others a happy holiday.

May you experience a truly joyous holiday season. I hope we see you soon.

purple spiral

Some Thoughts for the Season

christmas hearth

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