Most of the massage therapists I talk to about Deep Tissue appointments say the same thing ‘most Deep Tissue clients are actually looking for a firm pressure Swedish Massage or a personalized combined version of both’. This gets tricky as there are no hard set rules that define the difference. One of our responsibilities as Massage Therapists is to educate our clients, so I will attempt to do that here regarding the difference.

Here at Mind Body Soul we generally differentiate by the following guidelines:

Swedish Massage (light, medium, and firm pressure) is the most familiar and common type of massage in the United States today. As the name implies, it originated in Sweden in the 18th century created by Henrik Ling, and introduced into the U.S. in 1858 as “The Swedish Movement Cure.” Henrik Ling combined his knowledge of gymnastics and physiology, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman techniques to develop “The Swedish Movement Cure.” It is a full body massage using combinations of long strokes, kneading motions, friction, stretching, and sometimes tapping. I have also seen this type of massage called Circulatory Massage as it does increase the flow of blood and lymph in the area.
Swedish massage has been known to improve circulation, ease muscle tension, promote relaxation, improve flexibility, and support the body of ridding itself of waste products. It can be slow and gentle or more vigorous and firm depending on what the client and therapist agree upon before and during the session.

This following list is excerpted from an article on “Over the past few decades, a variety of studies have linked Swedish massage to several benefits, such as:

  • Reduction in knee arthritis
  • Easing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Boosting the immune system function
  • Reducing headaches
  • Helping to mitigate the symptoms of fibromyalgia” (Mulcahy, J. 2018).

Here at Mind Body Soul, we offer various light, moderate and firm pressure options, including Reiki, CranioSacral Therapy, Lymphatic Drainage, Prenatal, Oncology, PTSD, Massage with Reiki, Swedish Massage, Hot Stone, and Reflexology.

What is Deep Tissue?
Deep tissue massage is a particular type of massage. It targets deeper structures of muscles and connective tissue and is best used on smaller muscle injuries, chronic problems like whiplash, sports injuries, postural alignment, treating spasms, as well as tension in the muscles. The massage therapist focuses on releasing chronic muscle tension as well as knots and adhesions in the muscles using fingers, thumbs, fist, elbows, and forearms to penetrate these areas. Deep tissue techniques use little to no lubricant, and the strokes will be considerably slower and possibly shorter as the therapist waits for a slow release of tension. Most therapists use a “hooking in” method and slowly start moving down the muscle as it lets them in as well as stationary compression. Most Pressure should not be forced into the area and should never be painful but border the line of a pleasurable release (delicious discomfort) of tension and the pain blocking response (what we call tensing up).

Deep tissue is usually for a specific area and does not include the full body as in Swedish or Circulatory. However, it is often added to a Swedish massage for particular problem areas and can be relaxing.

A 2018 paper published in Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies asserts that “deep tissue massage should be used to describe a specific and independent method of massage therapy, utilizing the specific set of principles and techniques”. And “The understanding of the layers of the body, and the ability to work with tissue in these layers to relax, lengthen, and release holding patterns in the most effective and energy efficient way possible within the client’s parameters of comfort (Koren Y., Kalichman L. 2018).”

At Mind Body Soul we offer the following deep modalities: Deep Tissue Sculpting, Deep Tissue Massage, Nalu Therapy, Thai Massage, Cupping, and Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT).

Keep in mind that ALL massage is therapeutic.

Go ahead and book your massage today!


Mulcahy, J. (2018), What Is Swedish Massage?
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Koren Y., Kalichman L. (2017) Deep tissue massage: What are we talking about? Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.
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