Swedish Massage vs. Deep Tissue: Similarities, Differences, & Benefits



What can be more relaxing and therapeutic than a massage? The time spent having the tensions of life gently (or firmly) released from your muscles and soft tissue is transformative. While there are machines that offer massage, there is nothing like human touch to bring healing and a sense of connectedness. 


There are many different massage styles and techniques. Two of the most popular are Swedish massage and deep tissue massage. Depending on your personal needs, it’s a great idea to do a little research when choosing which method of massage you prefer. While most massage therapists offer many types of massage, it’s essential to know the difference, so you know what to request and to ensure you have a positive experience. 


Read on to discover the similarities, differences, and benefits of Swedish massage and deep tissue massage. By understanding the key characteristics of each, you’ll be able to determine which is best for you. 

What is a Swedish Massage?

For many years the creation of Swedish massage was mistakenly credited to Swede, Peter Ling. But it was actually developed in Europe (not Sweden) by a Dutch practitioner named Johann Georg Mezger. This style of massage is defined by the following strokes: 

  • Effleurage (gliding strokes)
  • Petrissage (Kneading movement)
  • Friction (Rubbing)
  • Tapotement (Percussion)
  • Vibration

Utilizing firm or light pressure, the massage therapist will stretch, bend, and massage passive and active joint movements to reduce tension and promote blood flow in the muscles. Swedish massage is a prevalent and common massage technique for stress relief and relaxation.

Related: Why is Yomassage the Best Option for Massage During COVID?

What is a Deep Tissue Massage?

Person in child’s pose on a massage table

Deep tissue massage targets deeper areas and structures of muscles and connective tissue. This is a popular technique for small muscle injuries and chronic pain such as sports injuries, posture issues, whiplash, and muscle spasms. It increases blood circulation to the injured area, so it promotes faster healing and reduces inflammation in the body. 


Deep tissue massage stretches connective tissue to penetrate muscles. The technique works layer-by-layer to release tension and access deeper layers to improve posture and muscle contractures. 


Using a hooking-in approach, the massage therapist will use fists, elbows, forearms, thumbs, and fingers in slow, hard strokes moving down the muscles. Although the massage is firm, it should never be painful. If you experience pain, you should let the therapist know immediately. Undue pressure on resistant muscle can cause more harm than good. 

Similar in Technique and Strokes

Swedish Massage and deep tissue massage are similar because they have the same foundation for technique and strokes. Deep tissue massage uses the same basic strokes of Swedish massage but then adds more pressure. 

Differences Between Swedish Massage and Deep Tissue

While the two techniques are similar, they are different in purpose, which affects the pressure application, use, and focus areas. 

Pressure Application

Because Swedish massage is meant for relaxation and pleasure, the strokes are long and light, primarily using the therapist’s fingers and hands. Deep tissue massage is geared toward releasing tension through forceful strokes and harder pressure to work through the different layers of the connective tissue. Deep tissue massage uses the therapist’s hands, thumbs, elbows, and forearms.


Swedish massage is for relaxation, while deep tissue massage targets injuries, knots, and muscle pain. To reduce stress, the Swedish massage will use light to moderate pressure for ultimate rejuvenation.


Deep tissue massage targets deep muscle tension and healing muscle strain. To work through the different layers of connective tissue to get to the problem areas, the massage therapist must apply significant pressure, and it can be uncomfortable during the massage. 

Focus Areas

Group relaxation and massage session

Swedish massage focuses on the main areas of your shoulders, back, stomach, and neck to release tension in the body overall. Deep tissue massage focuses on the deep layers in and around muscle areas where there may be pain or injury. Deep tissue massage is more concentrated instead of whole-body, like a Swedish massage.


Does your body feel full of tension and stress? We offer therapeutic touch in a comfortable group environment. Contact Yomassage today.  

Related Link: Should You Combine Massage with Stretch and or Yoga?

Benefits of a Swedish Massage

The primary benefits of Swedish massage include:

  • Stimulating blood circulation
  • Reducing anxiety and stress
  • Relieving whole body tension
  • Releasing toxins from muscle tissue
  • Lowering cortisol levels

Benefits of a Deep Tissue Massage

The main benefits of deep tissue massage include:

  • Treating injuries
  • Relieving chronic lower back pain
  • Realigning posture
  • Reducing muscle strains, knots, and spasms
  • Increasing flexibility
  • Reducing recovery time for strain or injury

Choosing the Right Massage

Choosing the right kind of massage for you depends on your body’s current needs. If you need to relieve stress and overall body tension, you may want to get a gentler Swedish massage. If you have injuries or recurring pain in a specific area of your body, then you may need a deep tissue massage. Communicate with your massage therapist about what is suitable for you.

What Type of Massage is Used in a Signature Yomassage Session?

A Yomassage session aims to increase the positive hormones and reduce stress hormones by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This can only be done if the client experiences the touch as safe and comforting. 


This is why we focus on comfortable and therapeutic pressure, avoiding pressure that can activate pain receptors while also avoiding too light of a touch that can feel ticklish. Yomassage is a world-class brand of massage therapy techniques with an innovative approach and philosophy for a fully immersive mind-body experience. 


Mindful and therapeutic touch can be used as a complementary and alternative therapy to address mental health and overall well-being. Massage, including massage focused on relaxation, effectively treats several conditions, with anxiety and pain among the most commonly improved conditions (Collinge et al., 2012). 


Field (2016) reviewed the literature and found that massage has been shown to have beneficial effects on multiple conditions such as: 

  • Prenatal depression
  • Full-term infants
  • Preterm infants
  • Skin conditions
  • Autism
  • Hypertension
  • Autoimmune conditions including asthma and multiple sclerosis
  • Pain syndromes including arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • Aging problems, including Parkinson’s and dementia
  • Immune conditions, including HIV and breast cancer 


Typically, massage therapy shows more positive effects than control or comparison groups in research studies. This could be potentially related to medium pressure touch activating pressure receptors, which are related to enhancing vagal activity (which regulates the nervous system) and reducing cortisol (the stress hormone) (Field et al. 2016).


Are you ready to experience wellness revolutionized? Find a session or practitioner near you. Check out Yomassage today! 

RelatedWhy Guided Meditation During Massage is the Wave of the Future

Previous Post Next Post