Deep Tissue or Swedish Massage?


There are many different types of massage but two of the most common methods are Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage.  It is helpful to know the differences to be able to assess which would be right for you.

While there are some similarities between Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage, they are different from each other.  The main differences are:

  • the pressure
  • the technique
  • intended use
  • areas of focus

With this in mind, here’s some information on the key differences to help you determine which massage type is right for you!

Swedish Massage

It is sometimes called a classic massage and is one of the most commonly offered massage techniques.  It aims to promote relaxation by releasing muscle tension.

It is gentler than Deep Tissue Massage and better suited for people interested in relaxation and tension relief.  It can help to loosen tight muscles caused by daily activities such as sitting at a computer or exercising.

So what happens during a Swedish Massage?

A traditional Swedish Massage involves the whole body.  You will begin either on your back or your stomach and will turn over at the halfway point.

If you have an area of particular concern, you can ask the therapist to spend more time on this area, also let them know which pressure you prefer – light, medium or firm.

During most full body massages, the expectation is that you will be undressed, and the therapist will wait outside until you are ready.  A towel will be placed over you and will be adjusted as they work their way round, so you will be covered most of the time.  The therapist will use oil or lotion to allow for long, smooth strokes.

During a Swedish Massage, therapists use a variety of different strokes including: kneading, long strokes and deep circular movements.

These techniques are designed to relax you, stimulate your nerve endings and increase blood flow.

Deep Tissue Massage

This type of massage is similar to Swedish Massage, but goes farther and is intended for a completely different purpose.  It is best suited to athletes and people with injuries, it also works for people with chronic pain conditions such as low back, neck and shoulder pain.

It aims to target the inner layers of the muscles, tendons and dense connective tissue.  It uses many of the same stroking and kneading movements as Swedish Massage but there is far more pressure.

In order to reach the deep muscle tissue, the therapist will massage layer by layer of muscle, applying more and more pressure and employing special techniques with the fingers, fists and even elbows to reach and stretch the deep tissues.

This type of massage facilitates healing by releasing contracted areas of muscle and tissue.  It helps increase blood flow to the soft tissues and helps reduce inflammation.

So what happens during a Deep Tissue Massage?

After a thorough consultation, including a medical history, it will be determined whether you need a full body massage or just to focus on a specific area only.  You will begin by lying either on your stomach or back and will be covered with a towel.  You will be asked to undress so that the therapist can work on the problem area, they will wait outside until you are ready.

Deep Tissue Massage begins as a more traditional relaxation massage and after the muscles are thoroughly warmed up the therapist will begin to work deep into the problem area.

In addition to their palms, fingers and knuckles, the therapist may use their forearms and elbows to increase the pressure.

It is important to communicate with the therapist about the level of pressure you are comfortable with as there may be different pressures for certain areas throughout the massage.  You may feel slightly achy after the massage which should ease after a day or two.

It is extremely important that any therapist you choose specifically identifies the massage type you are interested in.  Look for someone trained in a particular technique such as sports injuries and most importantly check that they are fully qualified and belong to a governing body.

All of our Massage Therapists are fully qualified and are members of the International Council of Holistic Therapists (ICHT) and are therefore bound by their codes of ethics and professionalism.

Should you require any further information or would like to speak to a member of our team, please call on Luton 01582 579687 or Hitchin 01462 420077 alternatively e-mail us on: or


Peter Heale Chiropractor in Hitchin and LutonFrom the team at Heale's Chiropractic Clinics
Over 30 years of helping people in Hitchin and Luton and the surrounding areas of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire

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