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Swedish Massage vs. Deep Tissue Massage

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What is the scoop with Swedish Massage vs. Deep Tissue Massage?  If you are new to massage you may not know which is the most appropriate for you.  Swedish Massage is notoriously chosen for an overall relaxation massage.  Deep Tissue is often chosen for specific sore and achy muscles. Although different in focus, Swedish and Deep Tissue massage compliment each other extremely well. Most practitioners use a combination of the two to promote general well-being and help their clients overcome dysfunctional muscle patterns.

Swedish massage

The primary focus of Swedish massage is to increase circulation and promote general relaxation. Swedish massage addresses the entire body. The muscles are first calmed and warmed as oil or lotion is applied. The muscles are then kneaded and stretched with a lifting/kneading stroke and then smoothed, lengthened, and drained of excess fluid with long, firm strokes. Vibration or percussion may also be used to stimulate or release muscles. The limbs may be moved or shaken. The process is repeated on each area of the body for an overall calming and rejuvenating effect.

The health benefits of regular full-body Swedish massage are enormous. Increased circulation, lowered blood pressure, improved immune function and reversal of the effects of stress are the benefits of Swedish massage. People who receive regular full-body Swedish massage find that they feel healthier, more energetic, less stressed, and are less susceptible to illness.

Deep Tissue massage

deep tissue massage seattle

The primary focus of Deep Tissue massage is to address specific tight muscles and to correct postural distortion caused by these tight muscles. While many believe that Deep Tissue massage simply means heavy pressure, this is a misconception. A practitioner may use very deep pressure without really addressing postural distortions. Conversely, a skilled practitioner may sometimes use fairly light pressure in a precise manner to facilitate deep muscle release.

The primary stroke of Deep Tissue massage is linear friction – a sustained linear stroke along the fiber direction of a specific muscle. This stroke activates the stretch receptors of the muscle, giving it a signal to release. A Deep Tissue massage may also use static pressure in one spot to release muscles. When skillfully applied to a group of muscles, Deep Tissue massage can “teach” the body to overcome dysfunctional muscle patterns and adopt a more balanced and healthier posture.

Deep Tissue massage also has wonderful health benefits. The release of habitually tight muscles relieves chronic pain and speeds the healing of injuries. Balanced posture improves organ function and athletic performance as well as addressing chronic pain. Relieving the stress and energy drain of chronically tight muscles improves general health as well.

Should I ask for Swedish Massage vs. Deep Tissue Massage specifically?

In deciding what kind of massage to ask for, consider your goals in receiving massage. Do you have a specific complaint or painful area to address? Consider Deep Tissue therapy.  Or do you want a full-body massage to combat stress or calm your nerves? Swedish might be more appropriate. Or you may find that a blend of the two is just the perfect treatment for you.  Let your massage practitioner know your needs and goals to ensure that you get the kind of work you want. And, enjoy your massage!!

by Laura G., LMP

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