Swedish Massage vs Deep Tissue Massage

You may be wondering what the difference is between Swedish massage and deep tissue massage. These are generally the two most common massages you hear people talk about when someone says, “I’m going to go get a massage.”  So, let’s go into the fundamental differences of both, how each are going to help and affect you and what you can hope to receive out of getting one or the other.

The basics of each are: Swedish massage is more of your relaxation massage, where you’re not going as deep and you’re targeting more of the central nervous system, the relaxation and the stress release.  The deep tissue massage, on the other hand, is targeted much more at the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissues and you’re trying to aim for injured or bound up muscle areas that we want to come in and release.

What is Swedish Massage?

Swedish massage is your general classic massage, and that is much more of a relaxing massage. It targets the central nervous system and stimulates the sensories in back to try and ease your brain, increase blood flow throughout your whole body and remove a lot of toxins and lactic acid and those metabolic wastes that get built up. It uses a lot of moves such as effleurage, or long gliding strokes, petrissage, which is the lifting and needing, some fiction and vibration as well, and it varies these moves to access the skin and the top layers of muscle the best. Some therapists like to involve some light movement or stretching into this Swedish massage as well. And that’s great and just as effective for increasing the muscle flexibility and improving muscle health.

What is Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage, on the other hand, is much more targeted at the deeper layers of muscle connective tissues and fascia and muscular tendons.  It’s primarily used as a tool to help with chronic pain injuries such as a whiplash or sports related injuries. And the goal is to go in at the deeper layers of muscle, find an area that’s bound up, such as a knot with trigger points, and then provide blood flow to that area, release the heat into muscle and help speed up the natural healing process.  Deep tissue massage should not be painful. It’s okay to find tender areas, especially once you’ve found this knotted up muscle area, but the general process should not start with you screaming in pain the second they touch you.

If a therapist is putting you in pain right from the story and all the way till the end, they don’t know what they are doing.  Deep tissue massage shouldn’t have to be that excruciating. And I personally never take my clients past a 7 out of 10. And eventually, I can get down to muscle layers that are sitting right next to the bones. Once you do get to those deep layers, however, it can be a great way to help somebody’s structural realignment, fix those chronic injuries, provide great range of motion, as well as remove things such as tension headaches and lower back pain. It definitely targets injuries more, and very specific areas more. However, both massages are just as therapeutic.

Swedish vs Deep Tissue Massage

Just because somebody doesn’t want a deep tissue massage, and they just wanted a Swedish light massage, doesn’t mean they’re not going to benefit from it. They still gain a lot of valuable benefits from the massage. I do find, however, deeper tissue massage seems to last longer. The improvements and the painlessness that you get from a deep tissue massage seems to come back a lot later than somebody who just gets a relaxation maintenance massage. Regardless of your preference though, getting either massage is absolutely wonderful with a load of benefits both for your body physically and mentally.

Woman receiving massage therapy

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