What’s The Difference Between Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage?

Curious about the difference between Swedish and deep tissue massage? Maybe you’re new to massage and need a quick run through the ropes. Or maybe you’ve always gotten Swedish massages but are curious about other types of massages. Regardless of your reasons, we’re here to help.

The main difference between Swedish and deep tissue massage is the amount of pressure used by your massage therapist. Deep tissue massage uses more pressure than Swedish massage. But there are lots of other reasons you may prefer one massage technique over the other. To give a comprehensive answer to this question, let’s take a look at what defines a Swedish massage and what defines a deep tissue massage.

Massage therapist giving a woman at Swedish Massage at Viva Day Spa in Austin, TX.

Swedish Massage

What comes to mind when you close your eyes and think about getting a massage? Probably someone lying face-down, completely relaxed and enjoying soothing music while a therapist works their massage magic. That’s exactly what a Swedish massage offers.  It’s even referred to as the classic massage technique. Swedish massage aims to increase blood circulation and promote relaxation by releasing body tension and improving muscle flexibility.

What Can You Expect During a Swedish Massage?

One of the benefits of Swedish massage is stimulation of the nervous system. It nurtures the skin, which soothes the nerves and reduces physical and emotional tension. How? Your massage therapist will use long, kneading strokes and deep, circular movements to increase the flow of oxygen into the bloodstream, which helps flush lactic and uric acids from your body.

Swedish massage is more gentle than deep tissue massage and better suited to anyone who’s looking for a pampering indulgence, or full mind-body relaxation.

Who Is a Swedish Massage Best For?

Swedish massage is great for anyone who wants to loosen muscle tension that results from daily exercise, poor posture, etc. It also works well for people with tension in their lower back, shoulders, or neck or anyone who wants to treat themselves to a luxurious indulgence of self-care.


Massage therapist using her elbow during a deep tissue massage at Viva Day Spa in Austin, TX.

Deep Tissue Massage

Looking for something a bit more intense than a relaxing and revitalizing Swedish massage? A deep tissue massage is just the answer for those who require a bit more attention — and pressure! — in the deepest parts of tight muscles.

Deep tissue massage is similar to Swedish massage, but it turns up the pressure a notch — or three. (Think John Mellencamp’s “Hurts So Good.”) Designed to target the inner layers of muscles and tendons, deep tissue massage aids healing by relaxing tense areas of muscle and tissue. Because it helps increase blood flow and can help reduce inflammation, it’s the best massage for working out any muscle knots or relieving body tension and soreness.

What Can You Expect During a Deep Tissue Massage?

A licensed massage therapist will dig a little deeper during your deep tissue massage, using many of the same stroking and kneading movements as Swedish massage, but also incorporating a higher degree of pressure. Although this technique is more intense than a Swedish massage, it shouldn’t hurt. Instead, the sensation will be a balance between a satisfying release of tension and the muscles pushing back against the pressure.

You should, however, expect to experience some soreness for two to three days after your deep tissue treatment. Your massage therapist may suggest treating it at home with heat, ice, or stretches.

Who Is a Deep Tissue Massage Good For?

Deep tissue massage is a favorite of athletes, runners, or anyone else who experiences chronic muscle injuries. And it’s also great for people with chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and lower back pain, or anyone who wants a deeper structural massage to work out the kinks and knots.


What’s the Difference Between Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage?

Okay, let’s take a side-by-side look at deep tissue massage vs Swedish massage.

BSwedish vs. Deep Tissue Massage Infographic (1080 × 500 px)

The difference between deep tissue and Swedish massage has to do with pressure, treatment goals, stroke style, areas of focus, pressure, and intended outcome.

  • Intention: Swedish massage is designed to relax the body and relieve tension. Deep tissue massage is more rigorous and is designed to work out muscle pain.
  • Treatment Goals: The goal of Swedish massage is relaxation, while the goal of deep tissue massage is usually for pain relief.
  • Stroke Style: Swedish massage focuses on longer, more fluid strokes.  The deep tissue massage technique uses more pinpointed and broad strokes.
  • Areas of Focus: The relaxing Swedish massage is usually a full body experience. Deep tissue massage typically focuses on problem areas.
  • Pressure: Arguably the most popular way to describe the difference between Swedish massage and deep tissue massage is pressure. A Swedish massage uses light-to-medium pressure, while deep tissue massage uses firm pressure.
  • Intended Outcome: How should you feel when walking away from a Swedish massage? Like your stress and anxiety have magically melted away. And a deep tissue massage? Like your key areas of concern have been given full attention and you can feel the results of the deeper body work.



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Thinking About Booking a Swedish Massage or Deep Tissue Massage in Austin?

Viva Day Spa Swedish Massage

Viva’s Swedish massage is perfect if you’re looking for that melted-butter-on-toast feeling. Our licensed massage therapists work to soothe stress and melt away tension, like a warm hug for your muscles. Here’s what you get when you book a massage with us:

  • 90, 75, 60, 45 Minute Swedish Massage
  • Aromatherapy
  • Warm Neck Pillow
  • Hot Herbal Steam Towel Treatment on Neck & Feet

It’s everything you need to soothe your entire body! Schedule a relaxing Swedish Massage in Austin at Viva:

Book Appointment Online

Viva Day Spa Deep Tissue Massage

Hello, fascial release! Wring tension and pain from deep in your muscles and revitalize connective tissue with a firm-but-loving deep tissue massage. When you book this treatment at Viva you get:

  • 90, 75, 60, 45, or 30 Minute Deep Tissue Massage
  • Aromatherapy
  • Warm Neck Pillow
  • Hot Herbal Steam Towel Treatment on Neck & Feet

Work out those knots and kinks! Schedule an invigorating deep tissue Massage in Austin at Viva:

Book Appointment Online


Swedish Massage and Deep Tissue Massage Nearby

Ready to experience the deep release of an expert massage? The no more Google searches for “massage spa near me.” Whether you’re looking for a deep tissue massage in north Austin or a Swedish massage downtown, we offer both massage types at our four Viva Day Spa locations, so we’re convenient no matter where you live in the Austin City limits. Come spend the afternoon with us, and let us pamper your hardworking body the way it deserves.

Favorite neighbor plug: If your body is in need of more intense structural work, we also recommend visiting our friends at Austin Sports Therapy!

More Massage Insights

Now that you more about the different types of massages, learn about What To Do Before and After a Massage to get the most from your treatment.

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