Parents Want to Know: What’s the Difference Between Swedish Massage and Deep Tissue Massage?

Parents Want to Know: What’s the Difference Between Swedish Massage and Deep Tissue Massage?

Health & Wellness
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As a parent, the word ‘relaxation’ may sound a bit foreign to you, especially these days. Close your eyes and take a second to think back– when was the last time you spent a couple of hours seriously relaxing and recharging? If it’s been too long, it may be time to schedule some much-needed time to yourself. With whatever ways you like to wind down– essential oils or curling up with a good mystery novel, consider booking a professional massage too. It may be just the thing to jumpstart you back to a more focused, relaxed self.

Why massage?

Massage isn’t just for those who want to indulge in a spa-experience or pampering. While some people get massages to help with muscle or joint pain, others use massage for its growing benefits like decreased anxiety, insomnia related to stress, headaches, and more. Massage is often a part of integrative medicine, and has more popularly become a supplement to treatment plans for different health conditions. Not only does it feel relaxing, but massage can decrease blood pressure and heart rate, in turn, relieving stress.

Massage is a great outlet for busy parents who are having trouble carving out the time to relax or paying attention to their body. Scheduling a 30-minute to one hour session periodically is one way to find peace and balance in your life– and reap the many physical and mental benefits of massage.

For massage therapy, the possibilities are endless. With over 80 therapy styles to choose from, there’s bound to be one that fits exactly what you’re looking for. Have a muscle injury that needs relief? Are you seeking a completely indulgent, gentle, spa-like experience? Does the tension in your neck or general muscle pain keep you from sleeping? You can find the solution to all of these issues in massage.

Different massage styles include different types of strokes, levels of pressure, or even different tools like oils, lotions and stones. Many massage therapists may combine different techniques, creating a personalized experience for you. But before you look up the best massage therapists near you, it’s a good idea to start with reading about the variety of massage styles available. Today, we’ll explore the similarities and differences between two of the most popular types of massage: Swedish vs. deep tissue massage.

About Swedish Massage

Swedish massage, the most popular type of massage in the United States, is a full-body relaxing and energizing massage that usually lasts 30-60 minutes. It involves a combination of kneading strokes and light tapping strokes on the body’s muscles, and movement of the joints. Oils or cushions may be used. The modality involves four massage techniques: effleurage, petrissage, friction, and tapotement. Find out more about each of the four basic strokes below:

Effleurage: Using the palms of their hands, a massage therapist will practice this technique in gliding strokes towards the heart. This stroke involves light, constant pressure used to warm up the muscles, relax soft tissue, calm nerves, and improve blood circulation and heart function.
Petrissage: This stroke involves rolling, kneading, and squeezing the skin to release muscle tension and improve blood flow.
Friction: This technique is the deepest stroke used in Swedish massage. A massage therapist will put pressure on the body in continuous circular or gliding movements.
Tapotement: With a cupped hand, their fingers, or the edge of the hand, a massage therapist practices this technique in short, quick tapping movements. This rhythmic stroke has a stimulating effect that may be a bit too intense for some people, so make sure to let your massage therapist know if they should reduce their stroke.

About Deep Tissue Massage

This massage style works deep layers of the body and is ideal for chronic muscle tension spots like the neck, shoulders or back, or to treat muscle injuries. It involves firm, forceful pressure and lengthening, slow strokes on specific parts of the body to relieve pain and stiffness. It’s important to note that after a deep tissue massage, you may feel some soreness. This type of massage is best for people who are less sensitive and who may be used to a more intense touch.

Key Similarities and Differences of Swedish Massage vs. Deep Tissue Massage

Swedish massage and deep tissue massage both offer stress relief, relaxation, and a release of tension in the body. These therapeutic techniques are widely popular and offer many benefits to the body and mind. They can improve your range of motion, improve your blood circulation, and ease pain. Both massage styles involve slow strokes and can be used to help treat injuries or sprains.

However, Swedish massage and deep tissue massage are also unique from each other. While Swedish massage is generally a more gentle, full-body approach, deep tissue massage focuses on tension areas and involves deeper, more intense strokes on the deeper layers of the skin. Firm pressure is used in deep tissue massage, but in Swedish massage the strokes are much lighter.


Before getting a massage, you should talk to your massage therapist about any health conditions you have. With this information, your massage therapist may tailor your massage to your needs and goals. It can be dangerous for people with certain health conditions to get a massage, and it may not be an appropriate therapy if you have:

Bleeding disorders or taking blood thinner medication
Recent surgery
Open wounds or burns
Certain types of cancer
Severe Osteoporosis

There is a range of additional health conditions that are not mentioned here, including unexplained pain and pregnancy, which is why it’s important to talk to your doctor and discuss the benefits and risks before considering a form of massage in your treatment plan.

Book Your Next Massage

Whether you’re booking a 30-minute or two-hour massage, a Swedish massage or deep tissue massage; you should know what to expect. Wear loose clothing and undress only to the point of your own comfort. You can expect to either lie down or sit in a chair, and your massage therapist might use oils or lotions, so be sure to let them know if you have any allergies.

The most important thing to remember when getting a full body massage is to speak up if you are uncomfortable. Massages should be relaxing, calming experiences, not painful or stressful. If your massage therapist is using too much pressure, let them know. Ask them to focus on the problem areas of your body or tell them if you want them to avoid certain areas.

Ready to start your search for a massage therapist? No matter the style, let your massage experience provide you with stress-relief and relaxation. As a parent, you deserve rest and self-care. So before you walk into your massage appointment, forget the world, take a deep breath, and let go. That feels a lot better, doesn’t it?

Find a massage therapist near me.

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Kristen Luft is a digital marketer working on health-centered blog posts for Wellistic. When she's not writing, you can find her reading, snuggling her greyhound or chihuahua, or following the latest trends on Instagram.