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Swedish Massage vs. Deep Tissue Massage

Massage therapy is one of many medical professions where the level of variation of treatment comes down to the individual patient and their interactions with individual massage therapists. Whether you’re going for a Swedish massage or a deep tissue massage, your experience will vary greatly from one massage therapist to the next.

The very real difference between Swedish massage therapy and deep-tissue massage therapy is the degree of pressure placed on one’s body by the massage therapist, and the areas of treatment and the focusing of the treatment by the therapist. It also really comes down to what you want out of your massage therapy.

What is Swedish Massage Therapy?

Young beautiful woman having professional back massage in spa salon

Swedish massage therapy was invented in 1868 by Dutch doctor Johann Mezger, who applied French massage techniques at the time and came up with five techniques that he found to be most effective on his patients at the Gymnastic Institution in Amsterdam.

These are: effleurage (long, gliding strokes), petrissage (kneading of the muscles), friction (firm, circular rubbing motions), tapotemont (tapping or percussive movements), and finally, vibration (shocking of particular muscles). These techniques are still in use by millions of massage therapists today.

As practised by Mezger, Swedish massage therapy relies on gentler, softer approaches to massaging one’s muscle tissue. It is, therefore, often used as a relaxational massage technique, and for addressing low-level muscle pain.

What is Deep Tissue Massage Therapy?

For those with chronic or serious muscular pain — those not seeking a relaxational benefit, but rather a medical one — there is a deep-tissue massage option, the application of much firmer pressure to areas of muscular discomfort. A deep-tissue massage typically focuses on specific parts of the muscular system that are causing the patient discomfort applies firm, constant pressure to these areas to release muscle spasms or muscle knots for the mid-long term.

How Do They Differ?

The simple difference between the two of them is the amount of applied pressure to the muscles of the patient. Swedish massage therapists tend to apply less pressure, but cover a broad array of muscles, whereas deep-tissue massage therapists will go all-out on very specific areas of muscular discomfort. Many massage therapists are trained to do both deep-tissue and Swedish massage therapy and many will offer both, depending on the client’s needs.

Which Is Better For You?

There isn’t an easy answer to this question. It all depends on what your needs are as the patient. If you’re looking for a relaxing time, then a Swedish massage is likely what your massage therapist will recommend. If you’re looking for help with a chronic medical problem – not that Swedish massage therapy is ineffective in this regard, it is simply a less concentrated method of treatment – then you might consider a deep-tissue massage instead. Or, ask your massage therapist how they might complement each other.

If you want to know more, get in touch with our team today to discuss. We provide massage services and education and we’d love to chat.

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