Swedish Massage vs Deep Tissue Massage comparison

The mere thought of having a massage is enough to send some people into bliss, but which type of massage should you choose, Swedish Massage or Deep Tissue Massage?

Both massage types are very popular techniques, and both are also hailed for their miraculous results. However, there is a difference between the two; therefore, understanding these differences will enable you to determine which is the right massage for you.


What Is a Swedish Massage? 

Swedish Massage for man

Swedish massage is often referred to as the classic massage because it is the most common or widespread type of massage practiced around the world.

This gentle form of massage uses light squeezing, tapping, vibration, and friction movements along with a series of long, gentle strokes to help relieve tightness in the surface layer of the muscles. It also increases circulation in the muscles.

Who it is for? 

Swedish massage is generally recommended for those who simply want to achieve overall relaxation. However, it can also be used to help relieve stress from everyday living, as well as muscle strain in the lower back, shoulders, and neck from long hours of staring down at a computer.

Swedish full body massage

Studies show that it may also help ease the stress associated with some anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

It may also be useful for those with circulatory issues as it also increases blood flow and lymph drainage, which in turn helps lower high blood pressure as well as the risk of strokes, heart attacks, aneurisms, and more.


What Is Deep Tissue Massage? 

Deep tissue massage utilizes a series of intense strokes to reach the inner layers of the muscles, connective tissue, and tendons to help release strains and knots, as well as realign the muscles, which can cause pain.

a therapist is massage for man

During the massage, the therapist will use his or her fingertips, palms, knuckles and, in some cases, also the forearms, to apply pressure to specific problem areas to help bring about relief in that part of the body, or the massage can be performed on the entire body to help ease all-over discomfort.

Who it is for? 

The main candidates for deep tissue massage are people with chronic pain conditions, such as persistent lower back pain, fibromyalgia, and more.

deep tissue massage for runner

It can also help relieve deep muscle pain associated with sports activity.

An injury or accident can also cause strain and tightness in the inner muscle tissues; therefore, it is also suitable for people with injuries.


Swedish vs Deep Tissue: Technique 

Deep tissue massage techniques differ from Swedish massage techniques in that the therapist utilizes different parts of the hand to perform a more aggressive massage.

However, the therapist may perform many of the same techniques used in Swedish massage to stimulate the muscles just with more intensity.

The therapist will also typically begin the deep tissue massage with Swedish massage techniques to help prepare the muscles before eventually transitioning into more intense strokes to reach deep within the muscles.


Swedish vs Deep Tissue: Pressure 

Because Swedish massage is designed more for promoting relaxation, it utilizes light pressure to soothe tension in just the top layer of muscle and tissue.

Swedish and deep tissue massage comparison

On the other hand, deep tissue massage utilizes strong pressure to reach the deeper layers of muscle and tissue where tight knots and kinks build, which often results in chronic soreness, as well as structural issues.


Swedish vs Deep Tissue: Intended Use 

The focus of Swedish massage is to promote overall relaxation by loosening tight surface muscles, which are the main culprits of pain and soreness in the body.

Therefore, it can be used to combat muscle stiffness caused by various stressors, as well as strain put on the muscles from poor posture and repetitive movements.

Its relaxing effects can also be enjoyed during the massage, as well as after. Some patients also report feeling more rejuvenated following Swedish massage.

However, the goal of deep tissue massage is to reach below the surface of the muscles into the layers of fibrous tissue closest to the bones, where kinks and knots are known to form due to certain conditions and injuries.

Over time these swollen, tender bumps in the muscles can also cause spasms and pain in the muscles and joints, which can make it difficult to carry out everyday functions.

Therefore, deep tissue massage is often used to address various injuries, such as those incurred from sports, a fall, or other trauma, as well as chronic muscle tension from ailments that can also hinder mobility. It is also great for correcting structural abnormalities in the muscle and spine.

Since deep tissue massage is designed to help alleviate deep, tender knots of tense muscle, unlike a Swedish massage, it is possible to experience soreness during the treatment, as well as in the few days following, due to the intense pressure.


How to Prepare for a Massage Session? 

Once you and the therapist have determined whether a Swedish massage or a deep tissue massage is right for you, the next step is to prepare yourself for the benefits of the massage.

swedish massage for woman

To do so, many therapists recommend slightly relaxing the muscles before the session. This can be done by enjoying a warm, relaxing shower prior to the massage, or if your therapist works at a spa, you may simply indulge in one of the spa's relaxing amenities beforehand to help you unwind.

It is also important to drink plenty of water both before and after your massage to help release built-up toxins in the muscles, as well as to help prevent soreness after deep tissue massage.

If you have any injuries, be sure to tell the therapist about them, so he or she knows which area or areas to avoid. Likewise, if you have specific areas of muscle tension you would like the therapist to focus on, be sure to let him or her know so they can address the issue.

You should also let the therapist know of any privacy issues you may have, such as if you are uncomfortable with being fully undressed during the massage.

It is also important during the treatment to let your therapist know if the massage pressure is not enough or too intense so they can adjust it accordingly for a more enjoyable massage.

Some other things to consider before your session includes whether you prefer a therapist of the same gender, which can also help increase the comfort level, as well as if this is just a one-time massage, or would you like the therapist to devise a massage plan?

This way, you can schedule multiple appointments ahead of time if need be, which will help ensure your massage is already arranged, which is especially useful in the event your therapist becomes booked up for peace of mind.

Some therapists also offer special promotions when you book your appointments ahead of time.

Grant Moore
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