Swedish or Deep Tissue Massage: What Do These Terms Really Mean?

sports massage Swedish deep

Clients are often asked if they want a “Swedish” or “deep tissue.” These terms, however, can misinform them about what massage therapy actually provides.

Recently, a client asked me what is the difference between “Swedish” and “deep tissue” since she often gets asked about that when she books an appointment at a spa. She wasn’t the first client to ask me about that; at least a dozen have asked me the same question for more than five years. There isn’t a straight answer to this because I am uncertain about how massage therapy is boiled down to two modalities for clients to choose.

There is very little reliable information online about the origin of the term Swedish massage, but I think there may be a few old books on massage therapy that provide such documentation. A quick search on PubMed mostly yields on how effective Swedish massage is for a condition when it is pitted with another modality. The most reliable source I could find so far is from an acupuncture and massage college in Miami, Florida, that goes into details (with pictures) about the origins of Swedish massage. I’m not sure how reliable this source is, but it is a start.

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