There are over 200 different types of massage therapies, all varying in technique and benefits. But two of the most popular types of massages often get confused for one another—Swedish massage and deep tissue massage. While each offers a laundry list of benefits for a wide variety of massage seekers, the two massage types are comprehensively different.
Let’s explore the distinctions between a Swedish massage and a deep tissue massage so you can determine which massage type is best suited to your needs.
Swedish Massage: Rejuvenate and Relax
A Swedish massage—also called a classic massage—is the most commonly performed massage variety, targeting the entire body to increase circulation and promote relaxation through kneading, rubbing, and gliding motions. The approach doesn’t hail from Europe—it sprung from Western concepts, using anatomy and physiology as the foundation for healing components.
Swedish massages often employ the use of warm essential oils and lotions, which comfortably reduce friction and come with the added benefit of aromatherapy. Five basic strokes are primarily used during a Swedish massage:
Effleurage: Long, smooth strokes enabling therapists to acquaint with the individual’s muscles.
Petrissage: Kneading, rolling, and lifting motions eliminate waste and toxins from tissues.
Friction: A ligament-loosening technique involving wringing and small circular movements.
Tapotement: Percussion motions that stimulate and relax the muscles.
Vibration: Rocking and shaking movements directed at specific or extensive sections of the body.
A Swedish massage is often chosen by patients desiring increased circulation and flexibility. Moreover, it’s a deeply relaxing massage, melting away physical and emotional stressors. It’ll elevate one’s mood while conjointly contributing to optimized melatonin production for enhanced sleep. Anyone looking for a relaxing experience that’ll leave the body feeling elongated, rejuvenated, and relaxed is a perfect candidate for a Swedish massage.
Deep Tissue Massage: Target Problem Areas
A deep tissue massage uses similar strokes and motions to that of a Swedish massage, but the intensity volume is turned up a few notches.
A deep tissue massage specifically targets connective tissue, which reaches deeper than a Swedish massage. Before a deep-tissue massage, your massage therapist will work with you to discuss areas of concern and will formulate a “massage map” of individualized target areas for your body.
When the massage begins, slow, deliberate strokes that aim to correct postural deviances are applied, while releasing knots, adhesions, and muscle tension. Throughout the massage, the therapist works to stretch fascia—bands or sheets of connective tissue—which connect to and supports your bones, muscles, and nerves.
Athletes regularly use deep tissue massage as a routine part of their recovery process. Those with small injuries, chronic pain, or inflammatory conditions may also find more significant benefits from a deep tissue massage. In addition, deep tissue massage enhances postural alignment as well as soothes tense muscles.
While deep tissue massages carry innumerable health benefits, the notable difference between a Swedish and deep tissue massage is the intensity. For some, the pressure from a deep tissue massage can be challenging to endure. But if you’re concerned about the intensity, you can direct a massage therapist to begin gently, increasing pressure as your body allows.