Deep tissue massage and Swedish massage are two different types of massage therapy. Both use some of the same strokes, but they have different uses and vary greatly when it comes to the amount of pressure used.
Here are the key differences between deep tissue massage and Swedish massage:
- Intended use. Deep tissue massage is primarily used to treat chronic pain and muscle and sports-related injuries. Swedish massage is mainly used to promote relaxation and reduce muscle tension caused by everyday activities, such as sitting at a computer.
- Pressure. Swedish massage is a gentler form of massage that uses far less tension than deep tissue massage. Both types involve use of the palms and fingers to knead and manipulate your tissues, but the elbows and forearms may also be used to apply increased pressure during a deep tissue massage.
- Area of focus. Deep tissue massage targets the inner layers of your muscles. It’s used to treat muscle and tendon injuries, pain, and stiffness in your major muscle groups and joints. Swedish massage targets the superficial layers of muscle and focuses on the parts of your body that tend to hold the most tension, such as your neck, shoulders, and back.
Deep tissue massage is best suited for people who engage in highly physical activities, such as running, or those who have an injury or chronic pain. If you have a low pain threshold or are looking for relief of tense muscles, Swedish massage is gentler and may be a better option. Speak to your doctor before trying deep tissue massage if you have an underlying medical condition.