Swedish vs deep tissue vs sports massage

If you need a massage but you’re not sure what will work for you, it might be worth reading this article which details the differences between three popular massage techniques. Of course, there are so many options and really, it depends on many different things, such as the discomfort you’re in, the type of result you want and different massages have different benefits. Most massage therapists offer a variety of techniques and you’ll likely find that Swedish massage is one of the most common forms of massage. There’s also Deep Tissue and Sports to name a couple of other popular massage styles, but which of the three is right for you?

Let’s start with the different types.

Swedish Massage

When you think about Swedish massage you probably conjure up lots of strong movements using the hands and arms and you won’t be far wrong. The Swedish Massage technique uses firm pressure that a masseuse administers on your muscles but it also utilises long, sweeping motions.

Your Swedish Massage masseuse will usually introduce pleasant essential oils or creams. These aren’t just for the aromatherapy benefits (of which there are many, from invigorating to sleep inducing and even restorative), the oil is there for another reason, it improves or decreases massage friction. When you begin your Swedish Massage, the masseuse will normally ask you how firm you want the pressure. Remember, the firmer the pressure, the less oil he or she will use.

Swedish massage is good for the following:

  • Relieving tension in muscles
  • Improving muscle flexibility
  • Boosting blood circulation
  • Soothing tired, frayed nerves
  • Reducing stress
  • Stimulating skin
  • Encouraging lymphatic drainage
  • Improving muscle recovery time

Swedish massage technique

For those of you unfamiliar with Swedish massage, it involves five strokes:

  • Effleurage (these are long, flowing strokes)
  • Petrissage (these are kneading strokes that squeeze skin and tissue, good for lymphatic drainage)
  • Friction (these are short, fast movements that create heat and encourage blood flow, these strokes also loosen ligaments)
  • Tapotement (these are quick chopping strokes to relax muscles)
  • Vibration (these are fast moving strokes especially to relax the mind and body)

Deep Tissue

This type of massage is aimed at the connective tissue, otherwise known as “fascia” and it’s good for muscle injuries and chronic pain. It’s often advised after a sports injury, a car accident, muscular spasm, muscular tension or other injury. It tends to really focus on specific areas, muscle knots or localised pain.

The masseuse will administer a series of slow, gliding and firm strokes but the type of stroke will depend on the muscle they are working on. It should never feel uncomfortable, but you will experience pressure until the muscle releases. For many there’s a fine line between pleasure and pain but at no point should you feel uncomfortable pain.

Deep Tissue Massage is good for:

  • Localised pain
  • Sports injury/other injury
  • Spasms
  • Tension
  • Removing knots

Sports Massage

As it sounds, this type of massage is designed for those who may have had a sports injury or to encourage faster recovery post workout. It involves manipulating soft tissue including skin, tendons, ligaments, muscles and fascia (connective tissue). It helps to correct injury problems and prevent further damage.

Many sportsmen suffer with repetitive stress injury and Sports Massage before performance and post exercise can aid in recovery and stop an injury repeating itself. You would only really need Sports Massage if you’ve undergone a sporting accident, strain or you take part in regular, endurance exercise.

Sports Massage is good for:

  • Sportsmen
  • Those who regularly exercise
  • Repetitive Strain injury
  • Ligament repair
  • Tendon repair
  • Muscle strain

So there you have it, three types of exercise, all of which deliver different results. There’s Swedish, good for all-over muscular wellbeing, lymphatic drainage and blood circulation. There’s Deep Tissue which is good for injury or for manipulating specific areas of discomfort and Sports. This one is best for active people who regularly take part in endurance exercise or for those who’ve injured themselves or have a recurring injury problem.

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