Swedish and Deep Tissue

The most common massage is a Swedish. If you are new to massage or don’t go very often, this would be a great place to start. A swedish massage involves using lotion or oil to execute long, flowing strokes, with the therapist trying to keep one or both hands on the body as much as possible. It may also include circular pressure on “knots” (adhesions in the muscles), percussion-like tapping, and gentle stretching. A swedish massage is usually intended to be deeply relaxing and can help decrease minor aches and pains. Short-term effects include decreased stress, anxiety and muscular tension. Over time, regular massages will break down scar tissue and improve one’s range of motion. Chronic conditions may require ongoing massage therapy.

Deep Tissue Massage: The goal of a deep tissue massage is to break a pain cycle and aid in the healing process of a soft tissue injury. The main difference between these two therapies is that deep tissue is regional- or usually focuses on one or two specific areas of the body. Swedish massage techniques are used first, to relax the muscle and allow the therapist to reach the deeper layers of tissue without causing pain or further injury. Little to no lubricant is used in this case, and the work is deliberate and slow. Deep tissue is an excellent compliment to physical therapy, orthopedics and chiropractic care. Again, it’s not a quick fix and although one deep tissue massage will feel great, it will take more than a session or two to have lasting results.

Often deep tissue is perceived as being a really painful therapy. There can be the occasional discomfort (especially when working on an injury) but a therapist trained in deep tissue will have the skills necessary to implement it safely and effectively. Good communication between the client and therapist is hugely important here. It’s necessary to keep your therapist informed of changes in health and medications. Some medications such as muscle relaxors can make a deep tissue session potentially dangerous, and even cause tearing and other damage. If you are in a great deal of pain, a deep tissue massage may be too aggressive.


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