woman experiencing the differencce between deep tissue and swedish massage
Health and Wellness

The Difference Between a Swedish Massage vs Deep Tissue Massage

Apr 18, 2023

Who doesn’t love a good massage from time to time? 

While there is a never-ending variety of massage techniques out there, two types of massages – Swedish and deep tissue massage – stand out the most. You might have questions about Swedish massage vs deep tissue massage like:

What are the benefits each massage type has to offer? What is the difference between them? What types of techniques do they employ, and what areas of the body do they target? Finally, which massage should you get? 

Determining the best massage when weighing out the “Swedish vs deep tissue massage” conundrum can be daunting, but let’s take a look at each type.

What is Swedish Massage?

What’s the first image that pops into your head when you think about getting a massage?


Probably lying face-down and feeling the relaxation seep into your body as your masseuse begins to brew their magic. This is just what Swedish massage is! Often known as the classic massage technique, Swedish massage has a plethora of benefits to offer. Some benefits are:

  • Boosts your blood circulation
  • Releases muscle tension
  • Improves muscle flexibility. 

This is the massage you might want to opt for if you’re looking to relax and rejuvenate your body. (Learn more about Swedish massage here: “What is Swedish Massage?”)

What is Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage deploys techniques similar to Swedish massage. However, unlike Swedish massage, this technique applies more intense pressure. During deep tissue massage, the spotlight shifts to specific areas of tension. If you feel a more intense level of discomfort in your muscles, for instance, then deep massage therapy is a great option for you. 

  • Increases pain management
  • Provides deep relaxation
  • Better flexibility and mobility

Make sure you communicate any health issues with your massage therapist before you kickstart your deep tissue massage session. 

What’s The Difference Between Deep Tissue And Swedish Massage?

Before we dive into the techniques used in each massage, let’s understand the difference between Swedish vs deep tissue massage first. 

Swedish Massage

The technique used in Swedish massage is targeted toward releasing muscle tension so you can feel fully relaxed after every session. It is gentler in nature and fits the needs of those interested in tension relief and relaxation. 

During this massage, you’ll feel the tightness in your muscles loosen up. This massage targets muscle tightness caused by everyday activities like exercising or long hours of office work. To be more specific, it can be magical for those who want to manage a lot of tension in their neck, lower back, and shoulders. 

Deep Tissue Massage

From the technique-oriented vantage point, deep tissue massage is similar to Swedish massage. The only difference here is that deep tissue massage goes the extra mile in terms of pressure application and targets specific needs. 

It is a perfect healing option for runners, athletes, or people coping with injuries. The intensity of deep tissue massage can even work for those with a chronic history of pain, such as lower back pain or fibromyalgia. 

When you’re getting your deep tissue massage, the inner layers of your muscles, tendons, and deep connective tissues are put on a fast track of recovery. 

Swedish Massage vs Deep Tissue Massage: The Technique

Now that you know the answer to “deep tissue vs Swedish massage,” it’s time to explore the technique used during each one. 

Swedish Massage

Long strokes, passive joint movement, kneading, and deep, circular movement are the most common techniques and movements used during a Swedish massage. 

What do these techniques help achieve? Aside from offering relaxation, they boost your lymph drainage and blood flow and stimulate your nerve endings. 

If you opt for a traditional Swedish massage, your massage therapist will target your whole body. You start either on your stomach or back and turn over once one side is completed.

If you have a specific concern, a stiff neck, for instance, you can request your therapist to work more around that area. You can even let them know the level of pressure – firm, light, or medium – you’re comfortable with. 

Deep Tissue Massage

Before you begin your deep tissue massage, your therapist will discuss your body’s areas of concern with you. 

This massage can either focus on your entire body or any specific area of your choice. Deep tissue massage starts with a more traditional massage to relax and warm your body up. 

Once the warm-up is complete, your therapist shifts the focus to the problem areas. 

Generally speaking, a deep tissue massage therapist uses fingertips, palms, and knuckles during the massage. To increase pressure, they may also use their elbows or forearms. 

Unlike Swedish massage, the goal of deep tissue massage goes well beyond soreness. The philosophy of Swedish vs deep tissue massage is that pain can be counterproductive to the process of healing. For this reason, you can expect a good deal of soreness for a few days following your massage. 

To manage soreness, your therapist may recommend ice or heat therapy and stretching exercises. 

Benefits of Swedish Massage vs Deep Tissue Massage

Trying to figure out deep tissue vs Swedish massage benefits? The benefits of getting regular and consistent massages are endless and include:

Swedish Massage Benefits:

Swedish massage helps reduce stress, improves body flexibility, boosts blood circulation, improves posture, improves mood through the release of endorphins, supports healthy immunity, increases energy, and improves the quality of sleep. 

Deep Tissue Massage Benefits:

Deep tissue massage, on the other hand, reduces pain in your body’s problem areas, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, makes movement easier by breaking up the scar tissue, rejuvenates injured muscles, treats arthritis symptoms, and reduces stress. 

Learn more here: “Deep Tissue Massage Benefits.”

How to Get Swedish Massage or Deep Tissue Massage at Home

Whether you have a long-term love affair with sports, are a competitive athlete, or lead a more laid-back lifestyle, getting regular massages puts you on the road to healing and keeps you in optimal shape. 

For most people, the idea of getting a massage comes with a mountain of inconveniences, such as booking regular therapy appointments, taking a few hours off from a hectic lifestyle, or even an alarming increase in expenses. 

What most people don’t realize, however, is that they always have the option of investing in a high-end massage chair. These chairs come with advanced technology to determine exactly what your body needs and offers tailor-made massages whenever you need them. With these chairs, you can choose from a variety of massage programs, including Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, sports massage, and Thai massage. 

The best part? You end up investing in a lifetime's worth of massages that continue to relax and heal you at your convenience!

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