Swedish vs Deep Tissue Massage: What’s the Difference


October 5, 2021


Derrick Allen

When comparing a Swedish vs deep tissue massage, what’s the difference and which is right for you? Get the answers here.

Massage may be new to you, but it has been practiced for its therapeutic benefits for thousands of years. Even though it has been around for so long, many people do not know the differences between the different types of massage.

Are you interested in learning the difference between Swedish vs deep tissue massage? Next, we will cover all you need to know and more!

Swedish vs Deep Tissue Massage

It is common to be confused about what a Swedish massage is vs a deep tissue massage. Not only is there confusion on behalf of those booking and receiving the massage, but also a miscommunication between the massage therapist and the client.

Once you get a better understanding of the differences in massages, you will feel better equipped for the next time you book a massage.

You need to communicate with your therapist. Even if you have asked for deep tissue and you feel that it is too deep, you need to communicate that to them. 

What is a Swedish Massage?

A Swedish massage is the type of massage that is most common and said to be the most relaxing. The term Swedish massage originated from a Dutch doctor in the 17th century.

Swedish massage has been practiced for hundreds of years, and millions of people worldwide get Swedish massages each year.

A Swedish massage is made up of a series of maneuvers where the therapist uses both long flowing strokes and kneading techniques on each part of the body. A Swedish massage is a head-to-toe massage session.

During a Swedish massage, you will be fully covered with a sheet and/or blanket; when the therapist is working on a section of your body, they will uncover that area. The use of cream, oil, or lotion will allow their hands to glide across the skin as they perform different movements.

You will be asked to turn over halfway through the massage so that the therapist can work on the opposite side of your body. Once the session is over, the therapist will leave the room so that you can relax for a bit before getting off of the table and get dressed again.

Benefits of a Swedish Massage

The benefits of a Swedish massage are astounding. There are many physical health benefits, and also mental and emotional benefits, as well.

Most people get Swedish massages to relax their minds and body. They may experience headaches, general muscle pain, or back issues that they want to address with their therapist. 

Here are some other common reasons to get a massage:

  • Relaxation
  • Muscle tension relief
  • Improves circulation
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Improves mobility and flexibility
  • Boosts mood
  • Stimulates lymph drainage
  • Keeps immune system healthy

It is recommended to stay on a massage regimen every 4-6 weeks, yet there is a lot of people who only come once or twice a year for a special occasion.

If you have never had a massage educating yourself on the different types and how a massage is performed can be all that you need to gain the confidence and desire to schedule one.

What is a Deep Tissue Massage?

A deep tissue massage is not for everyone. And, depending on your therapist, the pressure of a deep tissue massage can vary.

A deep tissue differs from a Swedish massage not only in the amount of pressure used by the therapist but also in the types of techniques used and the way that they are applied.

Instead of slow and long flowing strokes or gentle kneading to relax the body and muscles, deep tissue uses techniques that get to deeper layers of the muscles to break up the tension, knots, and lactic acid buildup in the muscle fibers.

A deep tissue massage is often requested by athletes, people who lift weights and work out regularly, and those who have high levels of stress. 

Benefits of a Deep Tissue Massage

Since deep tissue massage can be intense, not everyone finds it as relaxing as other types, such as a Swedish massage. Some people can not enjoy a Swedish massage due to its lack of intensity and slower, more relaxed pace.

It is all about personal preference and what your body needs at the time. Here are a few of the benefits of a deep tissue massage:

  • Pain & tension relief
  • Promotes rehabilitation after marathons etc
  • It breaks up scar tissue

Of course, the list goes on and on and varies from person to person.

Types of Massages

When it comes to massage and bodywork modalities, there are hundreds of different types of massage and bodywork styles. Not only that, but each therapist has a unique touch, approach, and style. 

Most therapists are trained in more than one modality of massage but will usually specialize in one or two areas. The most common types of massage and bodywork are:

  • Swedish
  • Deep tissue
  • Pre-Natal (pregnancy)
  • Hot stone (done with warm stones)
  • Myofascial
  • Lymphatic drainage
  • PNF (stretching)
  • Cupping

Many types of massage and bodywork require special training, certifications, or licensing to practice. Still, if you have questions about a certain style, you can always ask your therapist if they are familiar with it or if they offer it. The chances are that they can accommodate the request in the future.

There are many benefits to using the same therapist each time you get a massage. You become comfortable with them as a person, as a therapist, and as they learn your preferences, you get used to their style of bodywork.

With that being said, there are also benefits to using different therapists sometimes. Like it was mentioned earlier, each therapist has a different style, and at times your body may benefit greatly from something a different therapist has to offer.

Massage is Therapy

Now that you know more about massage and the differences between Swedish vs deep tissue massage, you will feel more confident when scheduling your massage and know what to ask for when your therapist is inquiring about your preferences. Let us know if you have any questions when you schedule your appointment at Allen Therapeutic Massage.