The Root of Massage

Hot stone, deep tissue, Thai…somehow I’ve managed to experience the wide range of massages without being treated to “the classic.”

Swedish massage incorporates five basic strokes: Long and smooth effleurage, petrissage kneading, warming friction, rhythmic tapotement tapping, and rocking and shaking vibration. Other popular massages like deep tissue and prenatal are derived from what most of the world, including Sweden, calls the classic massage. It’s the go-to choice for those who’ve never had a massage and it can be found on the menu at any spa.

On a winter evening after work, I visited The Blue Sapphire Spa at Danfords Hotel & Marina in Port Jefferson. I thawed in a cozy lounge by the fireplace until Joyce, my massage therapist, guided me to a treatment room with a soft, heated table, classical music and lovely, soothing scents.

Joyce has been a licensed massage therapist (LMT) for 18 years and customizes her Swedish massage with some amma work on the face and head. “Working amma here helps begin to detoxify the gall bladder and liver and it provides balance and helps you to relax for the massage,” Joyce explained.

It worked. I felt like jello by the time she moved away from my head and began working on my arms and legs. The pressure was not too deep, but just enough to stimulate while relaxing my body (and mind). “It’s like I’m exercising your body for you,” she said. She added a moist, hot towel to each body part after working it, pressing against the skin and gently wiping—a very pleasant element I’d never received in a massage. It not only helps bring blood to the skin, but also removes excess massage oil. When it was over, which seemed way too soon, Joyce brought me a steaming cup of herbal tea to help me ease back into reality.

Over in Nassau, Seonaid Mollison, LMT at Blue Water Spa in Oyster Bay, says the benefits of Swedish massage go beyond lowering blood pressure, strengthening immunity and increasing flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients to tissues and organs. “It can also reduce post-surgery adhesions, edema and reduce scar tissue. Swedish massage has many mental benefits too, including increased relaxation, decreased anxiety and it releases endorphins—those feel-good hormones,” Seonaid said. Her massage also includes a few acupressure points to leave the client feeling relaxed and grounded.

Both Seonaid and Joyce agree that Swedish massage is the most popular massage. “Men, women and teenagers 16 and older who are in overall good health can receive a Swedish massage,” Seonaid explained. “The relaxation aspect of this massage makes it perfect for anyone under a lot of stress or anxiety. This massage is wonderful for people who sit in front of a computer all day or who perform repetitive tasks.”

There are others who can benefit from Swedish massage but need to be more cautious. “Anyone with diabetes, high blood pressure, varicose veins, broken bones, sprains/strains or cancer should let their massage therapist know in advance. People with cancer or recently broken bones should get their doctor’s approval before getting any type of massage,” Seonaid said.

I walked away from the treatment feeling slightly buzzed—relaxed yet energized. I could finally cross Swedish massage off my bucket list, but I kept it on my to-do list, knowing I’d be back.

toni munna

Toni Munna is a native Long Islander who is always on the lookout for products that fulfill their promise to firm, hydrate, slim, soothe, de-wrinkle, plump, relax, de-stress, and just generally make you look and feel better. She a firm believer that wellness enhances beauty and has been testing beauty products and reviewing spas for you since the fall of 2006. You can reach her with questions at