Swedish Massage: A Systematic Review of its Physical and Psychological Benefits

Adv Mind Body Med. 2017 Spring;31(2):16-20.


Context • Swedish massage is the systematic application of manual pressure and the movement of soft tissue, with rhythmical pressure and stroking to obtain or maintain health. Studies have revealed its many benefits. Objective • The aim of the current study was to determine the results of past studies that evaluated the benefits of Swedish massage for various populations and to highlight its relevance as an alternative medical practice in health promotion and disease prevention. Methods • The research team performed a review of the literature using the key terms massage, relaxation, and benefits of massage. Original case reports and literature reviews of manual therapy published from 2004 to 2014 were included in the current review. The search was conducted using the SciELO, PubMed, and Medline databases. Setting • The study was performed at the Central Library of the Federal University of Sergipe, in São Cristóvão, Sergipe, Brazil. Participants • Participants in the reviewed studies included varied populations, such as nurses in hospitals, infants and older children, pregnant women, older adults, and cancer patients. Results • A total of 4516 articles were identified for consideration through the electronic database searches. After screening, 117 potentially relevant articles were identified for full review, and 11 studies met the inclusion criteria. The studies showed beneficial results in most cases, including improved nasal breathing and cleanliness in children, reduced lower-back pain for nurses, and improved adrenocortical function in infants. Massage is not completely risk free, however, and should be done by a professional very cautiously. Conclusions • Swedish massage has shown beneficial effects for multiple populations and can be used as a therapy. Its use in disease prevention is highly recommended.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Massage* / methods
  • Massage* / psychology
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Relaxation* / physiology
  • Relaxation* / psychology