Swedish massage and deep tissue massage are similar in that they are both forms of body work that are associated with the manipulation of muscles and tissue. The difference lies in the degree of pressure that is used in the process. Swedish massage is attributed to Peter Ling of Sweden. Deep tissue has been around for centuries in several forms, such as shiatsu and, more recently, the Pfrimmer Technique devised by Therese Pfrimmer.
Swedish massage is the use of several strokes including effleurage, petrisage and friction, to superficially manipulate muscles and tissue and promote healing. This type of massage has many benefits that include increased circulation, the elimination of wastes, increased flexibility and movement and improved immune function. Swedish massage can tone both skin and muscle, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and other skin abnormalities.
In some circles, Swedish massage is thought of as a “fluff and buff” technique. It’s lighter touch implies more of a relaxation technique for someone who does not have a lot of muscle tone. People tend to get a Swedish massage when the outcome that is expected is one of overall, general well-being.
Deep tissue massage on the other hand, is classified as the use of firm pressure onto areas of muscle tissue that are embedded further into the body. Specific areas of muscle are targeted and worked for the purpose of alleviating pain or discomfort. People who lift large amounts of weight or exercise frequently will often get deep tissue massages to improve muscle function. A full body, deep tissue massage has almost the same affect on a person’s muscle structure as a 30 minute workout. The firm pressure exerted by a therapist manipulates tissue at a much deeper level than Swedish massage. This allows for a more thorough detoxification of the tissues, in addition to a greater increase in blood flow to the area.
The ability to work muscles at this level increases the benefits several times over. Not only is blood flow increased, but oxygen is increased as well. This can increase the amount of muscle mass a person has over time. Improved flexibility and range of motion are also added benefits. Deep tissue massage also reaches ligaments and tendons that can lose elasticity if not worked properly.
No matter which type of massage is decided upon, each offers its own set of benefits. Because of the depth of work involved in deep tissue massage, always consult a physician to make sure you are in good enough health to receive one.