Swedish Vs Deep Tissue Massage: Which is Right for You?

Swedish and deep tissue massage techniques share similarities. They also differ in significant ways. So if you’re wondering which massage technique is right for you, read on for what you need to know about Swedish vs deep tissue massage.

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What is a Swedish Massage?

A Swedish massage is what many people think of when they think of a full-body massage. It’s also known as a classic massage. The purpose of a Swedish massage is relaxation, and general relief from tight or tense muscles.  As such, your massage therapist will likely have soft music playing during your therapy. They will dim the lights in your treatment room and may use essential oils, and lotions or creams that have a relaxing scent to create a calming, relaxing environment. 

While you lay on a table, covered with a sheet, your massage therapist will use long sweeping strokes, kneading techniques, gentle joint movements, and deep circular movements to relax the muscles and relieve tension. 

Swedish massages are particularly effective for people who tend to carry tension in their neck, shoulders, and lower back.  Swedish massages may last 30 minutes up to two hours.

What is a Deep Tissue Massage?

A deep tissue massage is also a form of table massage. It is like a Swedish massage in that some of the massage techniques such as long strokes, and circular movements are used. However, that’s where many similarities end. 

When comparing Swedish vs deep tissue massage, the primary difference is the goal of the massage. In a Swedish massage, the goal is relaxation.  In a deep tissue massage, relaxation may very well be a byproduct of the therapy, but the goal is to target deep inner muscles in your body, including the fascia (connective tissue), and tendons.

To reach these deeper layers, the pressure applied by your massage therapist will be much stronger and zone in on specific problem areas.  Your therapist may use their fists, forearms, or elbows to reach deep into the muscles to prompt the release of contracted muscles. While the pressure in a deep tissue massage may be firmer it shouldn’t be painful.  You should feel a ‘hurts good’ sensation but still be able to breathe and relax into the massage. 

Although a deep tissue massage begins similarly to a Swedish massage to relax and warm up the body, it may not proceed as a whole-body massage. Instead, your massage therapist will focus on the specific area of the body where you’re experiencing tension, contraction (muscle knots), and pain.

Choosing Between Swedish vs Deep Tissue Massage

To help decide between a Swedish vs deep tissue massage this checklist may be helpful.

  • Are you seeking general relaxation and relief, or do you need therapy for a specific area? 
  • Can you tolerate deep pressure?
  • Do you have a known injury?
  • Are you an athlete?

If you’re not sure what massage technique is most appropriate, do not hesitate to ask your therapist for guidance when you arrive for your appointment. Explain your aches, pains, or areas of tension, and ask for their recommendation. Your therapist’s goal is to provide you with relief, and they may suggest a combination of therapies that will be best suited to achieve your desired outcomes.

Book a Swedish or Deep Tissue Massage in Eugene

Top-reviewed, multi-award-winning About Touch Massage & Acupuncture provides Swedish and deep tissue massages in a welcoming, relaxing, and therapeutic environment. Book now or call 541-484-3055.  


I have been going to Jennifer for therapeutic massage for 7 years. I am so glad we found About Touch! Jennifer helped get my husband back to health after he broke his back. We have bought several gift certificates for friends and family. They have all loved to receive a massage as a gift!
I have gone to About Touch two different times. The office is small yet comfortable. I have low back and hip issues from a previous car accident a couple years ago and both times I went in tight and hurting and came out feeling much better. I would and have highly recommend this place to anyone looking for massage therapy.
Jennifer is wonderful. She’s always very good at finding my sore spots and seems to intuitively know the right amount of pressure to use. I highly recommend her services.
I stumbled upon About Touch on Google. I made an appointment with Sarah. One massage and I was hooked! I cancelled all of my current massages and now see Sarah on a regular basis. I don’t know what I would do without Sarah and her amazing hands & feet!
Incredibly serene massage experience. I felt like a rubber band walking out of here.

Elena is amazing. Not only did her massage work help my back recover from two years of limping on an injured foot, she also gave me resources to help myself. She’s a natural educator who explained the physiology of my back like no other healthcare provider has done. I wouldn’t hesitate to refer others to Elena and About Touch.



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