A common question I get asked a lot is, "what's the difference between a swedish and deep tissue massage?"
The swedish and deep tissue massages are the most well known of the western style massages. Then there are the eastern style massages such as shiatsu, acupuncture, cupping, any form of Chinese medicine, acupressure, etc,
The swedish massage is simply a relaxation massage. It's primary intention and focus is that of relaxation and de-stressing. When doing a swedish massage, the therapist works on the superficial muscles, the muscles closest to the skin. The swedish consists of different techniques and strokes such as the effleurage, gliding, petrissage, and tepotement (karate chopping).
The deep tissue massage is a little bit different. It is more appropriate for chronic pain or intense tension or discomfort. It is usually used to work on a specific area such as the mid-upper back or the glutes or hips.
During a deep tissue, the therapist sinks through the superficial muscles and works into the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. The therapist may use his or her elbows to sink in deeper and make the massage more effective. It may be a bit more intense or painful depending on who your therapist is, but it doesn't necessarily need to be that way.
I have said in a previous article that I don't believe massages need to be painful to be effective. Not every therapist thinks this way though. And most clients definitely don't think this way. The general public thinks that the more painful a massage, the better.
However this isn't true for everyone. I've had many clients say they stopped going to a therapist because they either told the therapist to go lighter and the therapist didn't listen, or it was just to painful.
Anywho, I digress. A deep tissue massage doesn't need to be painful to be effective. It's not about force, it's about intention.
Both the swedish and deep tissue massages have their benefits, but as a therapist, these are the basic massages you learn in school, and most therapist, including myself, want to become more specialized and niched in specifics types of massages.
I personally don't want to be a spa. I want my massages to be medically and clinically focused. I also will become more specialized in sports massage and work with athletes.
Sports massage is like a swedish massage, but in a sports related context. It doesn't have it's own techniques, but rather a sports massage happens either before, or after an athletic event.
For pre-event sports massages, the intention will usually be preparing the muscle for action. It will be compressions, jostling, and dynamic stretching movement, more fast paced, not a relaxation soothing experience.
For post-event sports massages, the intention will be calming the muscle down and cutting down the recovery time. It will focus on breaking