Swedish massage consists of a specific set of massage movements: effleurage, or sliding movements; petrissage, or kneading movements; friction or vibration and percussion. It traditionally also includes passive and active joint movements, stretching and bending joints with the assistance of the massage therapist. Other types of massage stemming from Swedish massage may include manual lymphatic drainage, sports massage, chair massage, pregnancy massage, oncology massage, and geriatric massage to name a few.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage focuses on stretching fascia, a three-dimensional web of connective tissue that surrounds, supports and penetrates all of the muscles, bones, nerves and organs. Deep tissue massage works layer by layer through connective tissue and muscles down to the deepest accessible layers to change posture and create freedom of movement by releasing fascial adhesions and chronic muscle contracture. Adhesions and scar tissue form in muscles because of injury, chronic poor posture, chronic or acute inflammation and repetitive motions. Deep tissue massage therapists use their fingers, thumbs, fists, forearms and elbows to stretch each muscle and fascia
How Massage Affects the Body
Swedish massage increases the circulation of blood and lymph, which has the result of cleaning and nourishing soft tissues--the skin and muscle. It lengthens and relaxes the superficial muscles and stimulates peristalsis in the intestines. Deep tissue work creates micro-tears in the fascia, which fill with elastin and collagen in about three days, creating muscles that are more flexible, supple and have greater range of motion. For the most success, the client must be willing to stretch regularly between sessions to retrain muscles and prevent recurrence of muscle contracture.
Weighing the Benefits
Choose Swedish massage for relaxation to increase circulation of blood and lymph, for relief of pain, improved mood, improved sleep and sharper thinking. Choose deep tissue massage for chronic pain that is muscular in origin, to improve posture and range of motion.
Misconceptions and Considerations
Swedish massage is sometimes considered to be more soothing than therapeutic, but research by the Touch Therapy Institute in Florida shows that Swedish or classic
massage has many therapeutic benefits.
Deep tissue massage shouldn't be painful! There is "good pain" and "bad pain" and if you have to "tense-up" to manage the treatment, you are defeating the purpose.
Well-trained deep tissue massage therapists work very slowly, within the client's tolerance, to stretch muscle layers without causing pain or damage. It often results in a little soreness afterwards, but you should feel better, not worse, after your massage!