It’s easy for patients (and some clinicians) to approach massage therapy with a myopic view; a massage is a massage, putting a hand or tool on someone will magically get the job done no matter what. In reality, massage is not a one-size-fits all experience and relies on a multitude of techniques to address a wide variety of needs.
“In the past I would have said that everybody needs myofascial deep tissue massage,” said Eric Stephenson LMT, NCTMB, Director of Massage Education at imassage. “Now what I really think about is ‘what kind of touch will the client feel is meaningful and helpful to them today.’”
Pain relief, relaxation, muscle imbalance and other conditions that lead patients to massage therapy require different strokes, pressure and time. It also depends on the patient’s desired involvement: some want to participate and engage in the experience, while some simply wish to lay back and relax. After receiving feedback from the patient on their preference, pull from your arsenal of manual therapy techniques to provide the best patient care. Today, we’re assisting you in a common choice you’ll have to make; swedish or deep tissue massage?
When to perform swedish massage
Swedish massage is one of the most common modalities used by massage therapists and requested by patients. This type of massage utilizes long, gliding strokes applied with firm pressure with as little friction as possible. Incorporate swedish massage into your manual therapy sessions if you are looking to:
- Increase circulation
- Ease muscle/mental tension and stress
Best product to use in swedish massage
Because oils reduce friction, they are incredibly effective in swedish massage. Choose quality, lightweight oils like Bon Vital’ Coconut Massage Oil, made with 100% pure fractionated coconut oil or Bon’ Vital Therapeutic Touch Massage Oil for tremendous glide. Another type of oils to consider in stress relief massage are essential oils to add the benefits of aromatherapy to your session.
When to perform deep tissue massage
Deep tissue massage is exactly what it sounds like: massage that affects deep tissues and musculature. Chronic muscle pain and tension require slower, more deliberate strokes that aim at reaching and loosening specific fascial adhesions. Use deep tissue strokes if you are aiming to provide:
- Purposeful fascial mobilization
- Postural improvement
- Increases in range of motion
- Relief from and release of muscle tension
Best product to use in deep tissue massage
The idea behind the deep tissue modality is hooking into the muscle until it releases and lets the massage therapist move along it naturally. Gel massage products provide the perfect medium for this modality because of their lasting glide. We recommend using Bon Vital’ Muscle Therapy Massage Gel in deep tissue, sports massage, neuromuscular massage and trigger point work. Post-deep tissue therapy, it may also be helpful to apply a topical analgesic to deliver long-lasting pain relief.
Hear more about the differences between swedish and deep tissue massage below and check out our characteristic chart for more information on the best massage therapy products to use in other massage therapy techniques!