Swedish and Deep Tissue massage are both popular types of massage therapy that differ in pressure, technique, intended use, and focus areas. So how do you know what you need?

Here’s more information about the key differences between these two massage styles, along with tips on choosing a therapist.


Swedish massage

Swedish massage is one of the most commonly offered massage techniques. It’s sometimes called a classic massage and is the one you will find in beauty salons and spas as it’s sometimes included in training to become a beauty therapist. The technique aims to promote relaxation by releasing muscle tension.

Swedish massage is gentler than deep tissue massage and suitable for people interested in relaxation and tension relief. It can also loosen up tight muscles caused by daily activities such as sitting at the computer or exercising. It can be helpful for people who hold a lot of tension in their lower back, shoulders and neck.


What happens during a Swedish massage?

Traditionaly it involves the whole body and incorporates a range of moves including kneading, long strokes and deep circular movements. If you have an area of particular concern, such as a tight neck, you can ask for more time spent in this area. Depending on your preferences, you can ask for light, medium or firm pressure.

Helps with:

  • Relaxation
  • Minor aches and pains
  • Circulation


Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage uses many of the same stroking and kneading movements as Swedish massage, but there’s far more pressure which can sometimes be painful, particularly when applied to areas with knots and tightness. Techniques such as Trigger Point Therapy and stretching are often incorporated to treat the deeper layers of soft tissue.

It is generally used to treat specific problem areas where the client is suffering with pain and stiffness so there will be a focus on this rather than the whole body. However, it is particularly important to work on all the surrounding muscles as tension in these areas will add to the discomfort in the main problem area.


What happens in a Deep Tissue Massage?

In order to reach the deep muscle tissue, a 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 the inner layers of your muscles, tendons and fascia (the dense connective tissue).

This type of massage facilitates healing by releasing contracted areas of muscle and tissue. It increases blood flow to the soft tissues and can help reduce inflammation. You may experience some soreness in the days following your treatment, but this is completely normal. You’ll be asked about this at your next visit to check for any adverse reactions.

Feel free to ask questions before you book a massage and to give feedback during the massage itself, this helps the therapist to identify problem areas and determine which are the most appropriate techniques to use as well as the level of pressure.

Helps with:

  • Sports injuries
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lower back pain
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Tennis elbow


Choosing your therapist

Make sure they are qualified in Deep Tissue and ideally Sports Massage as they will have completed anatomy and physiology as part of their qualifications. It’s important that they are registered with a professional body such as the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) as this guarantees they’re qualified in these disciplines and fully insured.