Health Literacy

What You Need to Know About Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage


As a Swedish massage does have many similarities with a deep tissue massage in Brisbane, many often find it difficult trying to distinguish between the two. They differ in many ways, including the techniques used, the range of pressure, the intended usage as well as the target area. Though they mainly do the same job of reducing tension in muscles, it is useful to be able to tell the two apart and get the right type of massage to cater to your individual needs. If you are still convinced that these two massages are the same, read on to find out the key differences between these two styles.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massages are one of the more common massage styles that most massage parlors would offer. Also known as a classic massage, this technique aims at reducing stress levels and induces relaxation by alleviating tension in the muscles. This technique is usually favored by individuals who do not enjoy deep and forceful strokes, as it is much gentler than deep tissue massage. The Swedish massage effectively tackles tight muscles in the lower back, shoulders, or neck that can be caused by daily activities like sitting on the chair for prolonged periods of time or through bad posture during sleep.


Masseuses administering the Swedish massage typically use techniques like kneading and are gentler on your muscles and joints. They incorporate long strokes, passive joint movements, and deep circular movements to promote relaxation and stimulate the nerves. It is also effective in facilitating blood flow as well as lymph drainage.


Traditional Swedish massages engage your whole body. They typically start with you lying on your belly or on your back before instructing you to turn over midway. If you happen to have a tight area that might need extra attention, you can let the masseuse or therapist know to spend more time on the affected area. You can also request for the extent of pressure — light medium or fir, to match your preference. Prior to the session, the masseuse or therapist will ask you to undress and give you a cloth to drape yourself with, but rest assured that you can choose to keep your underwear on if you feel uncomfortable. Though the cloth on your body will be adjusted from time to time, you will mostly be covered for the majority of it. They often make use of oils or lotions on your body to reduce the friction, and may also ask if you have any preferred choice of aromatherapy scent.

Deep Tissue Massage

Though there are many considerable similarities between deep tissue and Swedish massages, deep tissue massages tend to typically serve more as a treatment for injured muscles rather than as a relaxation technique. They are usually best suited for athletes and runners who are more prone to injuries, as well as for patients who suffer from sports-related injuries. On top of that, they can also effectively relieve chronic pain conditions like lower back pain and even fibromyalgia. Deep tissue massages focus on the deeper layers of your tendons, muscles, and fascia, and hence work better than Swedish massages in relieving pain and alleviating physical discomfort.


Deep tissue massages also use most of the same techniques like kneading and stroke, though they add a whole lot more pressure to the body, which may often be relatively painful. Since it is targeted to reach the deeper layers of the muscles, the therapist will typically massage layer by layer, progressively adding more pressure to the affected area. They also use special techniques using the fists, fingers, and elbows to effectively reach and stimulate the deep tissue. With the added pressure, deep tissue massages heal the tight muscles and tissue, simultaneously promoting blood flow to the soft tissues and aid in curbing inflammation.


Therapists usually discuss the patient’s injuries or discomfort prior to the session and can either engage the whole body or just the affected area. Similarly, you will be asked to undress and will start the massage on either the back or your belly. The therapist will start with a gentler massage to open up the muscles, before proceeding to apply more pressure on the focused areas. Though deep tissue massages involve much more pain and pressure, patients are expected to discuss their pain tolerance and extent of pressure that they prefer. As some patients may find it counterproductive to apply more pain or pressure on the problem areas, the therapists will usually inquire if the pain gets unbearable.

Tips for a pleasant massage experience

  • Find the right massage therapist — Source for a suitable therapist who is trained to perform the right massage that you are looking for. It is good to look into their practice and background, and ensure that they are professionally certified especially if you need help with the recovery process of an injury.
  • Discuss your injuries — If you have any prior injuries before a Swedish massage, let the masseuse know so they can either avoid the affected area or focus on it.
  • Talk about your comfort levels — It is useful to let your therapist know the places that you are uncomfortable getting massaged. For example, many women may request to avoid their private areas.
  • Goals and expectations — Discern for yourself whether you just want to relax or alleviate the pain on your problem area, and communicate it to the therapist
  • Discuss pressure — If your pain tolerance is relatively low or you prefer gentle massages, let them know to ensure that you are not in too much pain.
  • Warm-up — If the facility allows so, you can hop into a sauna or take a warm shower to open up your muscles so you can be more receptive to the massage session
  • Drink lots of water — Hydrate yourself before your massage.


Regardless of whether you just want to unwind after a long week at work, or if you have a recurring injury that you want fixed, it is important to find the right massage style for your own needs. It is also absolutely essential to do prior research so you know more about the intended purpose of each style, to discern if it is suitable for you. Though these sessions are typically short, do communicate with your masseuse or therapist about your sensitive areas, pain tolerance, and preferred pressure to ensure that you enjoy the process as much as you can.

Abby is a marketing and communications specialist who specializes in event promotion, reputation management and branding. She loves EDM and probably should cut down on her caffeine.

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