What Is the Difference Between a Swedish Massage and Regular Massage?

Medically Reviewed on 11/24/2021
What Is the Difference Between a Swedish Massage and Regular Massage
Both Swedish massage and regular massage can help loosen up tight muscles and offer stress relief. Learn about the differences between the two

Both Swedish massage and regular massage can help loosen up tight muscles and offer stress relief. But there are key differences between the two massage techniques.

Learn about the pros and cons of each massage technique.

Table: Swedish massage vs. regular massage
Features Swedish massage Regular massage
Technique Uses a series of soft, long, kneading strokes to relieve surface tension Any massage that manipulates your skin, tendons, and muscles by pressing or rubbing
Target area Topmost layer of muscles Layers of muscles, tendons, and other tissues deep under the skin
Pressure Therapists may apply light-to-firm pressure to provide a relaxed and energized feeling Therapists may use light strokes to deep pressure
Intended use
  • Relieves muscle tension
  • May be beneficial after an injury
  • Can make you feel rejuvenated
  • Relieves pain by targeting stiff trouble spots
  • Relieves chronic patterns of tension and helps with muscle injuries such as a back sprain
  • Improves immune function
  • Lowers heart rate and blood pressure

What are the pros and cons of a Swedish massage?

Swedish massage is the most common type of massage that uses long, flowing strokes with kneading, tapping, and vibrating movements to relieve surface muscle tension. Swedish massage uses five types of strokes:

  1. Effleurage: The therapist gives smooth, gliding strokes using their hands and forearms, which leads to relaxation of the soft tissue.
  2. Petrissage: Kneading movements following the effleurage promote the movement of cellular fluids and blood circulation.
  3. Friction: The therapist performs deep pressure massage in small circular movements using their thumb or a pointed object.
  4. Vibration: The therapist presses the body tissues in an up and down motion using their palms or fingertips of either or both hands.
  5. Tapotement: The therapist performs rhythmic, tapping, drumming or cupping of the tissue at the end of the massage to wake up the client and energize them.


Health benefits of Swedish massage may include:

  • Relieving muscle cramps and muscle fatigue
  • Strengthening muscles
  • Soothing the nervous system
  • Stimulating blood circulation
  • Relieving symptoms of various diseases
  • Firming skin and muscle tone
  • Relieving back pain due to poor posture and prolonged sitting
  • Relaxation from stress

When to avoid

Avoid Swedish massage if you have the following:


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What are the pros and cons of a regular massage?

A regular massage is any massage that involves rubbing, pressing, and manipulating your skin, tendons, and muscles.


Health benefits of a massage may include:

When to avoid

Avoid a massage therapy if you have the following:

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Medically Reviewed on 11/24/2021
Image Source: iStock Images