If you’ve recently decided on getting a massage, or you’re wondering what your options are, you may have noticed that there is more than one type of massage available. While there are several different types of massages, Swedish massage vs deep tissue massage are two of the most common you’ll encounter, and for good reason.
Swedish Massage vs Deep Tissue Massage
While some may debate which massage is “better” when considering a Swedish massage vs deep tissue massage, the truth is that neither one inherently is “better.” Swedish and deep tissue are different types of massages that involve different techniques, and have different purposes and results.
Perhaps the most offered massage type, Swedish massage fulfills a variety of purposes, usually centered around relaxation and tension release. Swedish massage is generally the more soothing and casual of the two.
This massage involves firm pressure on the muscles, and often involves a particular series of long, gliding strokes that work to increase blood circulation, resulting in several benefits both immediate and long term.
Swedish massage stimulates the skin and nervous system, helping to soothe both physical and emotional stress. The pressure and stroke methods cause muscles to relax and loosen, leading to a holistic effect that can help with several issues, including chronic pain, muscle tightness, tension headaches, and more.
The oxygen in the blood is also increased by this massage, releasing toxins from the body and helping shorten the recovery time for muscle strains.
There are five primary strokes you can expect to experience with a swedish massage:
- Effleurage – These strokes are long, slow, and flowing, helping the massage therapist to feel and gauge the muscle tone, as well as spread any oils or lubricants if applicable.
- Petrissage – This is a kneading stroke that gently lifts and squeezes the body’s tissue, helping to remove metabolic waste.
- Friction – These strokes are fast and short to create heat. This encourages blood flow and helps loosen ligaments.
- Tapotement – This is a series of light “blows” that help relax the muscles. Tapotement can sometimes resemble a downward chopping motion in rapid succession.
- Vibration – This refers to strokes that are either quick shaking or rhythmic rocking, creating gentle movement in the body.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is geared more towards treating muscle and postural issues, and is generally considered more therapeutic than soothing, although a deep tissue massage should not be outright painful or uncomfortable.
This massage type focuses on stretching fascia, the web of connective tissue that surrounds and binds all of your body’s muscles, nerves, organs, and bones. The massage is designed to work through each layer down through the connective tissues and muscles, helping to improve posture, and increase range and freedom of movement.
This can help improve healing and treat pain from injuries and conditions and conditions that have resulted in adhesions and scar tissue. Deep tissue massage works to stretch each muscle and fascia layer, creating a beneficial releasing effect that promotes better movement and less pain overall.
Deep tissue massage is done through a series of slow, deliberate strokes directed at specific areas, with the duration and stroke depending on the issue of the person receiving the massage. The therapist eventually begins to “hook in,” allowing them to move down slowly as the muscles allow. The pressure applied to the muscle causes the muscle to slowly release, creating a fine line of both muscle tension release and tensing up as a result of the body’s natural reaction.
Which Massage Should You Get?
Even if you know all about Swedish and deep tissue massages, it can still be rather confusing to determining Swedish massage vs deep tissue massage on any given day.
The best way to resolve this would simply be to ask a massage therapist, but you can narrow it down yourself if you know what you are looking for.
When to Get a Swedish Massage
As mentioned earlier, a swedish massage is more geared towards soothing tension and relaxation. If you have been under a lot of stress, a swedish massage can help you relax and release a lot of the tension that has built up in your body from all the stress in various areas of your life. They can also help with headaches, back, and neck problems that have resulted from stress, or even from sitting in a chair all day at work.
Swedish massages are also a great way to unwind just because, and can be great for couples and friends, at home or on a vacation.
When to Get a Deep Tissue Massage
If you have persistent pain in your muscles and joints due to injury, posture, or repeated physical activity, a deep tissue massage may be just what you need to loosen the muscles and joints to encourage better range of motion, which also helps decrease pain.
When knots have become noticeable and problematic, or you are looking to minimize the pain and effects from sports or other demanding physical activities that you engage in on a regular basis, a deep tissue massage is strongly encouraged. Be sure to communicate with your massage therapist and be specific about your needs and what the causes of your issues are.