Three of the most commonly requested styles for massage treatments at home are Swedish, Deep Tissue and Sports. Whilst these specific style names exist and provide a framework for the type of movements that will be used in your treatment, it is important to remember that every single massage treatment is unique. Here we explore the the fundamental differences between the three options.
Depending on which treatment style you opt for, your therapist may spend more time focussing on certain parts of your body or asking you to undress to a certain level, always ensuring you are completely comfortable.
The summary table below can be used to help you choose which might be the most appropriate treatment style for your needs. It is important however to keep in mind that real massage is not about about the touch but also personalities, empathy and interpretation by the therapist carrying out your treatment. Whichever style you book, every good massage should be bespoke and adjusted to your particular needs and delivered with personality.
|Classic Swedish||Deep Tissue||Sports|
|Pressure||Soft to Moderate||Moderate to Firm||Firm to Very Firm|
|Best duration||90 - 120 mins||90 mins||60 mins|
|Focus areas||Full body||Full body||Targeted to injury area|
|What to wear||Undress||Undress||Undress or loose clothing|
|Primary technique||Effleurage, kneading||Deep kneading, rolling||Deep kneading, trigger point therapy, stretching|
|Lubrication||Oil with relaxing aromas||Oil with relaxing or revitalising aromas||Oil, cream or dry|
|Pain||None during or after||Little or none||Some during and up to 2 days later|
|Best frequency||Weekly||Bi-weekly||As needed|
|Best for||Gentle relaxation||Deeper therapeutic relaxation||Injury assessment and recovery|
Take any two therapists, trained from the same school and even on the same course and ask each of them to carry out a Swedish massage for you. You will likely find that they perform quite different massages, even though there is an underlying similarity of approach. It's a bit like ordering cheese burgers from two different restaurants - they will both be cheese burgers but taste different. Just like food, massage is a personal service carried out by individuals, each as unique as the massages they give.
So how to know which style to choose? Each treatment style provides a framework on which your particular treatment should be based. The above table sets out the key elements that distinguish classic Swedish massage from deep tissue and sports massage. Consider those underlying factors, choose the best for your needs and then lay back and let your professional therapist take control to give you her interpretation.
Remember to always discuss your preferences and any particular areas of concern directly with your massage therapist as they will be best placed to advise when they are with you.