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Swedish Massage vs. Deep Massage

April 23, 2015

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What is the difference between these two popular massage styles?

A close up of a man massaging a womans neck


Have you ever been to a spa or massage studio and noticed the several different types of massages offered? Do you know much about their differences, or do you just go with the flow and pick the first one on the massage “menu?” Below we take a look at two of the more popular types of massage – Swedish and deep-tissue – for those aspiring toward a massage therapy career.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is meant to provide an incredibly relaxing experience for the client. That’s the goal of most massage forms, actually, but Swedish massage’s main function is to provide soothing comfort. It increases circulation, decreases stress and tension, and improves flexibility of the treated areas.

Swedish massage incorporates five standard techniques, which vary from client to client, depending on their individual needs. Massage therapists use consistent vibration (to keep the muscles warm), long, smooth strokes, gentle friction and mild kneading. These actions combine to create maximum benefit.

Massage therapists who practice the Swedish technique generally work with the following sorts of clients:

Those with poor circulation – the long strokes administered help increase blood flow to the body’s extremities.

Those who are overly stressed – many massage therapists play soft music in the background for added relaxation. While most massage techniques are meant to relieve stress, Swedish massage focuses on extreme comfort to help decrease the stressors clients build up in their daily lives.

Those with sensitive skin – Swedish massage is quite gentle, which is perfect for those who need delicate treatment.

Deep Tissue Massage

Also high up on the request list is deep-tissue massage, which is designed to treat more severe tension than the Swedish method. By incorporating strategic touch into the neck, shoulders, back and other problem areas, massage therapists work and treat fascia, the body’s connective tissue.

Many of the Swedish techniques and movements are used within a deep-tissue massage, but massage therapists are trained to aim for the muscles located deeper within the body, which requires a little more intense kneading.

While usually a little more uncomfortable than a Swedish massage, deep-tissue massages should not hurt, as many often think. If it causes real pain, something’s likely wrong.

Prime candidates for deep-tissue massages are:

  • athletes
  • office workers who sit in one position all day
  • people who stand in one position all day

Because these people place so much strain on their bodies, muscles attempt to compensate for each other and cause unneeded stress.

If you’re planning on pursuing a massage therapy career, you’ll want to be well-versed in the many options (even if you plan on specializing). First Institute instructors have real-world experience in the massage field, so contact us today to enroll and begin your massage therapy journey!

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