Some Facts About Deep Tissue Massage

A lot of buzz words exist about massage and describing different massage techniques.

For my business theses are the definitions of Swedish and deep tissue massage that I prefer.  My pet-peeve is that therapists continue spreading the misguided idea that “deep pressure” and “deep tissue” is the same thing.  They are not and let me explain why!

Swedish massage is considered to be the most basic of massages.

It involves longs, sweeping strokes across your body.   Four types of strokes may be incorporated into the massage: effleurage (to spread), pettrisage (to lift), friction (to press), and tapotment (to tap, pound).  The therapist may use the palm of their hand, heel of the hand, fingers, the forearm, or a “soft” fist to perform a Swedish massage.  The massage may have a light, medium or firm pressure and a generous amount of lotion or oil is typically used.  The intent of the massage is to affect the superficial layers of muscles and tissue of the body.  Swedish massage is best as a full body massage that focuses on the superficial layers of your body to release general stress and tension.

By contrast, a deep tissue massage focuses on a particular muscle group or groups of your body.

Having a massage with a lot of pressure is not the same as a deep tissue massage.  The therapist will focus on the deeper layers of muscles and tissue.  The intent with a deep tissue massage is to resolve a particular issue or problem, for example whiplash or tendonitis.  In addition to the parts of the body used in Swedish massage, the therapist may also use the side of the forearm, the elbow, thumbs, a hard fist, and fingertips.  In some instances there may be additional pressure used, or holding a particular position while the muscles and surrounding structures release.  Deep tissue massage general uses little to no cream, lotion, or oil, but this may depend on the specific modality your therapist uses.  The strokes are usually slower and deeper than with a traditional Swedish massage.  In most cases, this massage will be an area specific massage and is not intended to be a full body massage.To fill the gap between our Swedish and deep tissue massages at Balance and Peace, I have added our “integrated massage” to the menu.  This is the perfect combination of wanting a full body massage, but still having an area or two that you want focused on.  (For example, today I had someone that wanted a full body massage, but their quads were bothering them from walking a lot over the weekend, so we focused on that) The therapist may use a variety of techniques to meet the goals that you have established for that session.  We may incorporate some aromatherapy or hot stones into this massage, or both.  It’s the perfect mix of relaxation and resolving nagging issues in the body.Hopefully the next time you are asked what type of massage you would like, you will have an idea of what you are looking for!  Nothing is worse than a therapist not understanding what you, as the client, want and therefore not meeting those needs!