Swedish massage vs. Deep tissue massage - Homedics Blog (2023)

Swedish massage and deep tissue massage are two of the most popular massage techniques in the modern world. These techniques share some similarities, but there are important differences to understand that set them apart.

So which is better: deep tissue or Swedish massage? The answer is up to you.

Learn what makes each one unique to discover what type of massage therapy might be your preferred style.

Main differences between Swedish massage and deep tissue massage

Although many people use Swedish massage and deep tissue massage to help relieve tension and general discomfort, these two types of massage therapy use different massage techniques to perform different functions.

Swedish massage is the type of massage you probably think of first. It uses gentle, steady pressure from your hands to massage muscles that normally feel tight from general activity, like neck pain from sitting at a desk or back pain from a long day on your feet.

Deep tissue massage focuses on the soft tissue layers below the surface where knots and tension can cause muscle pain. A deep tissue massage is more intense and involves stronger pressure to loosen tight muscles.

Purpose of Swedish massage

Swedish massage, also called classical massage therapy, aims to promote relaxation and help relieve superficial muscle tension.

During a Swedish massage, a masseur will apply slow kneading pressure and circular motions to help your body relax and feel more pleasant overall.

Common Swedish massage techniques

Effleurage: The massage therapist slowly slides the palms of their hands over the client's skin, pressing gently and using oil or lotion to reduce friction.

(Video) Massage Tutorial: Using very deep pressure (deep tissue)

Petrissage: The massage therapist uses their hands to gently massage and roll the muscles and apply pressure with their fingers, moving from one small area to another.

Tapotement: The massage therapist uses rapid percussive movements to apply repeated pressure to the skin and muscles.

Swedish massage target areas

A Swedish massage can target the entire body, from the muscles of the neck and shoulders to the legs and feet. Being a general relaxation treatment, you can have a Swedish massage where you find it most comfortable, relaxing and relaxing.

Common areas of tension and pain include:

  • Neck
  • back
  • lower back
  • Pies
  • legs

What happens during a Swedish massage?

It is common to lie on your stomach for a Swedish massage. During a session, the therapist may ask you to roll over, especially if you have indicated a specific area that hurts.

In most cases, you will remove most of your clothing for a Swedish massage. You can almost always leave your underwear on. Meanwhile, your body will be covered with a towel. Sometimes you can wear loose clothing during a Swedish massage.

As the masseur works on your muscles, he folds parts of the towel to reveal only the specific area he is working on.

To make applying the kneading pressure easier and to make the process more comfortable for you, a Swedish masseur will use a lotion or oil.

Swedish massage primarily uses the fingers and palms of the hands to apply pressure to the muscles. You can always tell the massage therapist if he is using too much or too little force.

Purpose of deep tissue massage

Deep tissue massage is a more targeted and recovery-focused form of massage therapy. A deep tissue massage is aimed at relieving tension, relieving pain, and loosening knotted muscle tissues from strenuous exercise or activity.

(Video) Deep Tissue Massage Basics: Working with the Whole Body

A deep tissue massage uses deep, targeted manual pressure to penetrate the deeper layers of muscle tissue. It uses similar movements and manual techniques, but with much greater intensity. This type of massage may be less comfortable than a Swedish massage.

Deep tissue massage can also be considered a sports massage to deal with the more severe tension that comes with high exertion exercise and physical activity.

The deeper layers of muscle tissue can become stiff and painful. When this happens, do you feel muscle knots oradhesions—areas of inflexible tissue that cancause stiffness. As a massage therapist releases these areas of muscle contraction, they can provide soothing relief and promote relaxation.

on the fascia

What is fascia?Fascia is the soft tissue that connects all the muscles, organs, and bones throughout the body. Fascia fibers can also become knotted. When adhesions form in the fascia, they can put pressure on the surrounding muscle tissue and cause pain.

A deep tissue massage can also target the fascia and surrounding tissue to try to untangle knots.

What Happens During Deep Tissue Massage

While a deep tissue massage can cover your entire body, it's more common to focus on specific areas where you experience pain or chronic muscle pain.

As you lie on the massage table or bed, the therapist will use their hands to begin applying light pressure to your muscles. They will constantly increase the pressure, eventually pressing deep into the muscles to reach the problem areas below the tissue at surface level.

A deep tissue massage therapist will begin by using the fingers and palms. As they build up the pressure, they can also use their knuckles, forearms, and elbows. Due to the deep pressure applied, the massage can become a bit uncomfortable. If you experience discomfort, you should let your therapist know so they can adjust your technique.

After a deep tissue massage, you may experience pain for a few days. You can try applying ice or gentle stretching to help relieve pain.

If you're only getting a deep tissue massage in one area or a few specific areas, then you probably don't need to fully undress. If you have to uncover sensitive areas, the therapist will use a towel to keep you covered while you work.

(Video) Massage Tutorial: the Trapezius (deep tissue, anatomy review)

Swedish massage vs deep tissue massage: which is better?

Determining which type of massage therapy is best depends on your lifestyle and specific needs.

Think about how and what you are feeling, and whether it is a specific problem or a general feeling.

Do you generally feel tense or are you experiencing stressful circumstances and want to relax? A Swedish massage can be a relaxing experience for you. Swedish massage is suitable for relieving high daily tension that you may feel, usually in your neck or back.

Are you experiencing pain in specific muscles and are you regularly active or do you exercise frequently? A deep tissue massage can help loosen muscle knots and promote relaxation.

Swedish massage can be useful for:

  • People who feel tense due to stress.
  • People who sit for long periods of time and experience neck, back or shoulder tension.

Deep tissue massage can be useful for:

  • athletes
  • handyman
  • People with some types of chronic pain.

Both types of massage offer some general health benefits, and each type also offers some specific health benefits.

Swedish massage health benefits

1. Promote relaxation

The calm environment and the constant pressure of a massage therapist's hands provide an experience that many people find relaxing. Especially after a long day of physical or mental work, a Swedish massage can help you feel relaxed and comfortable.

2. Release tension

General tension can increase when you sit, work, walk, and do housework or other physical activities. A Swedish massage is meant to help relieve some of that tension in your muscles, allowing you to lie still and let the masseur work through the tension. Swedish massage also produces calming sensations in the nerves and muscles.

3. Helps induce calm

Stressful feelings can be hard to escape, but a Swedish massage is an opportunity to focus on the present moment and enjoy the calming pressure. Thinking of your Swedish massage time as a time to recuperate outside of your normal responsibilities will help you get the most out of the session.

(Video) Deep Tissue Massage Basics: How to Make Contact and Apply Pressure

Health benefits of deep tissue massage

1. Loosen muscle knots and adhesions.

It is the main focus of deep tissue massage: loosening knotted soft tissue that can cause pain and discomfort.

2. Helps improve mobility

The mobility of your soft tissues affects your flexibility and the range of motion of your joints and muscles. The increase in flexibility hasmultiple benefitsfor your overall health, including joint lubrication and helps prevent muscle fatigue and muscle tension. TOstudy 2017on shoulder mobility found that massage therapy significantly improved shoulder range of motion.

3. Increases blood flow

Circulation throughout the body helps eliminate toxins and provides nutrients for muscle recovery.A studyshowed that people who received massage therapy after exercise had better blood flow for up to 72 hours after exercise.

Swedish massage x deep tissue massage: 2 relaxing therapies

General vs. Specific, Relaxation vs. Sports: The question of Swedish massage vs. deep tissue massage comes down to a few key differences.

What is best for you depends on your needs and the anticipated experience. But the aspects that these popular techniques share make them relaxing and invigorating experiences.

Medical Disclaimer: This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Swedish massage vs. Deep tissue massage - Homedics Blog (1)


Deep Tissue Massage, National University of Health Sciences:https://www.nuhs.edu/patients/health-information/articles/deep-tissue-massage/

Flexibility, UC Davis Sports Medicine:https://health.ucdavis.edu/sportsmedicine/resources/flexibility_descriprion.html

Yeun YR (2017). Effectiveness of massage therapy on range of motion of the shoulder: a systematic review and meta-analysis.Journal of Physiotherapy Science.,29(2), 365–369.https://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.29.365

(Video) Deep Tissue Massage Technique: The "Mother Hand"

Therapeutic massage restores peripheral vascular function after exertion, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation:https://www.archives-pmr.org/article/S0003-9993%2814%2900130-0/full text


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