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Swedish Massage VS Deep Tissue Massage: Which is for you?


Swedish massage vs deep tissue massage is a question confronting many people as they book an appointment, like the one here at Speedy Sticks. But the question is a deeper one about what they hope to get out of their massage since each type feels different, comes with different degrees of intensity, and has varying medicinal benefits.

Continue reading to learn about the difference in benefits and techniques of Swedish massage vs deep tissue massage. When you’re asked this question by Speedy Sticks we want to make sure you know which massage therapy is right for your needs.

What is a Swedish Massage?

A Swedish massage is the relaxing type of massage and the most common. The therapist, or “masseuse,” uses many types of stimulation to relieve stress and promote circulation in muscles and joints by manipulating them. Stimulation could include kneading, tapping, vibrating, or percussing tight muscles, ranging from light to firm pressure. For this type of massage, essential or natural oils may promote relaxation during treatment.

Also called a “classic massage,” a Swedish massage has many purported health benefits. These include:

  • Stress reduction – Massages can release tight muscles and improve circulation, helping patients manage back pain or other systemic muscle pain. They can also aid the body in releasing serotonin and dopamine, which are mood stimulants. Cortisol, the stress hormone, may also decrease through massage, though more extensive trials are indicated.
  • Cardiovascular benefits – The soft tissues involved in Swedish massage, including tendons, muscles, and blood vessels, circulate blood to the heart more easily when they are loose, which is beneficial for the patient’s cardiovascular health.
  • Lymph drainage – Lymphatic fluid can build up when muscles are not being actively used. Massage therapists call this a buildup of “toxins.” Releasing them through massage can promote healthier muscle function.
  • Improved flexibility – By improving circulation and relaxing muscles and joints, patients may experience improved flexibility through Swedish massage treatment.

Swedish massage vs deep tissue massage

What is a Deep Tissue Massage?

In contrast to a Swedish massage, deep tissue massages are not generally relaxing. They are designed to aggressively address injuries or chronic conditions by using deeper strokes to address deeper muscle layers. Connective tissues that are chronically tight may need deep tissue massage to regain healthy blood flow.

Deep tissue massage uses slow movements as opposed to percussive ones to address muscles in groups to relieve pain and tension in the long term. The masseuse glides along the entire muscle to find points of tension in the fibers to relieve these adhesions and re-introduce healthy blood flow and function to the muscle. Some conditions purportedly helped by deep tissue massage include:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sciatica
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Arthritis

In a broader sense, deep tissue massage can also help with high blood pressure, stress, movement restrictions, and other injuries. Deep tissue massage is frequently purported for use in sports rehabilitation due to its ability to aid muscle recovery as well as restore loss of function after an injury.

How to Choose Between Swedish Massage vs Deep Tissue Massage

The type of massage you should get depends on what you hope to accomplish by receiving it. Swedish massage vs deep tissue massage is really a question of intent based on the conditions you hope to treat and the sensations that you want to experience.

For example, relaxation possible through Swedish massage comes with many benefits for many situations. Those who suffer from chronic headaches, low-level chronic pain conditions, neck tension, high blood pressure, and even normal stress could benefit from the muscle manipulation and increases in circulation resulting from a relaxing Swedish massage. Stiff office workers who want to improve their flexibility and reverse the mental and musculoskeletal side effects of sitting all day can use regular Swedish massages.

By contrast, deep tissue massages may be of greater benefit to those with acute injuries since they address deeper muscle layers more proactively. Athletes recovering from a sports injury can benefit from both types of massages but often swear by the rehabilitating effects of deep tissue work.

Those who suffer from chronic pain and tension conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis can often benefit from the neurological “reset” of a deep tissue massage. Pregnant women may also make use of deep tissue massages to manage the chronic aches and pains of pregnancy, as well as give their blood pressure and stress levels a fighting chance during the later months.

How to Prepare For At-home Massage Therapy

If you’re planning to have an at-home massage therapy session, here are some tips to help you prepare:

  1. Find a Quiet and Comfortable Space: It’s important to choose a quiet and comfortable space where you can relax and enjoy your massage therapy session. Make sure the room is clean, well-ventilated, and free from distractions like loud noises, bright lights, and clutter.

  2. Communicate Your Needs: Before the massage therapy session, communicate your needs to the therapist. Let them know if you have any medical conditions, injuries, or areas of pain or discomfort that need attention. Also, specify your preferred massage style, whether it’s Swedish or deep tissue massage.

  3. Dress Comfortably: Wear comfortable clothing that allows easy movement, like loose-fitting pants and a t-shirt. You will be asked to undress partially or completely, depending on the type of massage therapy you choose, so make sure you feel comfortable with the level of undressing required.

  4. Prepare the Massage Area: Your therapist will bring all the necessary equipment, including a massage table, sheets, and oils. However, it’s a good idea to have a few extra pillows and blankets on hand to make yourself more comfortable. Also, make sure the temperature in the room is comfortable for you.

  5. Hydrate Before and After the Session: Massage therapy can release toxins from your muscles, so it’s important to drink plenty of water before and after the session to help flush out these toxins from your body.

By following these tips, you can prepare yourself for an enjoyable and relaxing at-home massage therapy session. At Speedy Sticks, we are dedicated to providing high-quality massage therapy services to our clients, whether they choose to receive treatment in our clinic or in the comfort of their own homes.

The Takeaway

Both Swedish massages and deep tissue massages have many purported benefits when performed by a licensed masseuse. However, which massage you should choose depends on the benefits you hope to receive. Consider this guide to the basic differences between massage therapy as a way to match the problem to the treatment and book an appointment with Speedy Sticks today. 

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*This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace consulting with a healthcare professional. Please consult with your primary care physician or healthcare provider before engaging in any services offered by Speedy Sticks.