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Differences Between Swedish, Deep Tissue and Hot Stone Massage

Swedish, deep tissue and hot stone are the most common types of massage techniques used today, but with different wellness goals. Do you understand the differences between the three and how each is used for health and healing?

Swedish Massage

This classic massage technique is probably what you think of when you hear “massage therapy”. It is based on a series of specific movements to relax muscles and stimulate circulation.

  • Effleurage is characterized by long, smooth strokes using one or both hands.
  • Petrissage is a kneading movement used to pick up and twist superficial tissues to enhance blood and lymph circulation and relax and tone muscles.
  • Percussion is drumming or tapping, it increases local blood circulation and relaxes nerves.
  • Friction is a rubbing movement used on scar tissue and trigger points. Pressure can be light, medium or heavy depending on the tightness of the muscles.

Deep Tissue Massage

The art of the deep tissue massage focuses on connective tissue rather than relaxing muscles.  Releasing connective tissue makes muscles softer, longer and more flexible. This type of massage is great for a sports injury or connective tissue injury. Deep tissue massage therapists use their hands, fingers, thumbs, forearms, and elbows with a bit more force than Swedish massage therapist to stretch layered tissues.

Hot Stone Massage

Hot stone massage is not usually used alone. This is a supplement to be used with the other two styles of massage above. Hot stone enhance the effects of the main massage, using heat to stimulate blood flow and relax muscles even further. Therapists place stones along strategic areas of the body such as the back, on the hands and even between the toes. They use a larger flat basaltic rock to stroke along the length of muscles.