Swedish vs Deep Tissue: Which Massage Is For You

Both Swedish and deep tissue massages are very common. However the actual difference between the two is not always known. While both will leave you feeling refreshed, they are designed with differing purposes. A Swedish massage is aimed at achieving overall body relaxation. Often referred to as a traditional massage, it provides a calming and soothing experience, usually focusing on the whole body. A deep tissue massage is more highly focused on a certain area and is designed to relieve pain and can be used to treat a range of conditions. Using firmer pressure, the deeper layers of troubled muscle are targeted. In this article we look at Swedish vs deep tissue massage and outline the differences.

swedish vs deep tissue

A Swedish massage is the classic massage style that comes to mind when you think of a massage. While it originated in Sweden in the 1800s, it is simply referred to as a 'massage' in many countries. The Swedish massage has the overall goal of total relaxation. If you want your body to feel totally calm and relaxed, this is the massage for you. 

Swedish massages take place on a table with you in a lying position. This aligns your spine and relaxes it. The massage therapist will apply massage oil and then use a combination of five different strokes to achieve relaxation. The pressure applied will depend on the masseuse. You should always communicate about how firm you would like it to ensure you get the best possible massage.

The message therapist will use a combination of ​long sliding strokes, kneading, percussive tapping, friction and vibration to cause an increase in blood circulation. With an increase in blood flow, oxygen and other nutrient levels rise causing an easing of tension  and promoting relaxation. Swedish massages are very calming and will leave you feeling totally refreshed and rejuvenated. 

swedish vs deep tissue

​Deep tissue massages are firmer and more intense than Swedish massages. People often think that because of this they are painful. While a degree of discomfort is common, they should not be too painful. While Swedish massages are generally designed to cause relaxation, deep tissue massages are more focuses on pain relief.

​According to Everest, deep tissue massage therapy can we used to treat pain caused by a variety of conditions including muscle strain from sports injuries, osteoarthritis, whiplash, muscle spasms and fibromyalgia. Often to get the most benefit you will need multiple sessions.

​During a deep tissue massage, the therapist will apply firm pressure to target the deeper layer of muscle and the tissue which connects the muscles, called the fascia. By working these deeper tissues blood circulation increases, releasing tension and causing knots to loosened up. 

The actual strokes used are quite similar to those in a Swedish massage, yet more intense. Each movement is slower, deeper and more concentrated to target the troublesome areas.​

Swedish vs Deep Tissue Massage: Final Word

​Similar in nature, both Swedish and deep tissue massages will leave you feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. A deep tissue massage is more intense and designed to relieve pain and muscular injury. A Swedish massage is aimed more generally at overall body relaxation.