During a Swedish massage, your therapist will first apply massage oil or lotion to your body and then employ long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. These purposeful movements help to warm your muscle tissue, release tension, and release those tight “knots” you may have been experiencing in your neck, shoulders, or back. In addition, Swedish massage may also incorporate the use of other techniques: circular pressure that is applied by his/her hands and palms, a firm kneading of the muscles, a percussion-like tapping, and even stretching of the joints and muscles.
Deep tissue is similar to Swedish massage, but uses slower, deeper strokes. The massage professional may even use specially designed massage tools or their elbow in certain areas to apply pressure.
Be sure to communicate openly with your massage therapist about the pressure they’re using and your comfort level. Some pain is to be expected, but it should be manageable and should never feel like you’re “bracing” your muscles.