Swedish Massage Vs Therapeutic Massage [Key Differences]

If you are wondering what to choose between a Swedish and a therapeutic massage, and need a balance board of benefits, here are all the aspects you must consider.

The key difference between Swedish and Therapeutic massage: Swedish massage focuses on relaxation, stress relief, and improved circulation, using gentle, long strokes and kneading motions. In contrast, therapeutic massage targets specific problem areas, addressing muscular tension, chronic pain, and soft tissue injuries with deeper pressure and targeted techniques.

In the following sections we will understand in detail the difference between therapeutic and Swedish massages, and when should you prefer one technique over the other.


1. Purpose

Swedish massage is used for general relaxation that includes relaxing the client physically and regaining a good mood.

The therapist might use Swedish massage to relax the superficial tissues for locating any tight bands in the deep muscle layers.

2. Technique

Swedish massage is applied superficially with a light to moderate touch over the client’s skin.

techniques used in swedish massage vs therapeutic massage
  • The technique starts with the therapist applying slight pressure to the client’s skin and slowly stroking the palms of the hands in the direction of the heart.
  • The therapist keeps the speed of the strokes slower and longer so that the massage is more comfortable for the client.
  • These superficial, long, and slow strokes are combined with light vibratory or tapping movement of the hands in some parts of the treatment.
  • And finally, the session ends with the stroking movements just like the beginning.

3. Who needs Swedish Massage?

  • Swedish massage is suitable for anyone in general. You can book your massage session for Swedish massage on your weekend if you want to alleviate your body from the week-long fatigue.
  • People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can benefit from Swedish massage because GAD comes with symptoms like feeling restless, irritable, and unable to concentrate. This technique helps the client get rid of unwanted feelings of distress as reported by research.
  • It is also proven to decrease the heart rate and blood pressure in people with hypertension or obesity.
  • Swedish massage improves lymphatic drainage with its sweeping movement, thus it works for postsurgical or post-cancer patients.

4. How Much Does It Cost to Get Swedish Massage?

A Swedish massage costs somewhere between $30 to $70 for a 30-minute session and $50 to $130 for a 60 minutes session.

5. Tools used

For a Swedish massage, your therapist does not need any heavy equipment. All you need is,

  • Couch or treatment table
  • Massage oils
  • Towels
  • Gown
  • Humidifier, or a warmer

6. Convenience To Get Swedish Massage

The Swedish massage does not require you to go to a spa, you can call your therapist at home and enjoy the rejuvenating experience at your home.


1. Purpose

Therapeutic massage targets the deeper structures, unlike Swedish massage.

It is intended to treat any hard knots, trigger points, or contractures in the deeper muscles.

It also reduces muscle tension and relaxes the deep facia.

2. Technique

Therapeutic massage is applied with firm pressure on the client’s skin so the effect reaches the deep structures. This technique is much more intense than Swedish massage.

Before starting a therapeutic massage, the therapist must locate the area of tight bands or trigger points by palpating the area with fingertips.

techniques used in therapeutic massage vs swedish massage
  • The technique begins with the therapist placing palms or fingers firmly on the client’s skin where a tight band or knot is located.
  • This technique combines other techniques like deep fascia release or ischemic compression.
  • While performing the deep fascia release technique the therapist applies intense, deep pressure on that point and glides the hands in the direction of the heart.
  • During the ischemic compression technique, the therapist presses forcefully on the knot with the thumbs and performs a circular movement over the knot with increasing pressure from the thumbs.

3. Tools used

The required equipment is the same as used for a Swedish massage.

Your therapist applies the massage with his/her hands mostly, however, the therapist might prefer using a deep massage gun for muscle spasms.

4. How convenient it is to get a therapeutic massage?

Therapeutic massage must require you to visit a massage spa because the deep pressure applied during this technique is often uncomfortable for the client, and it sometimes damages the surrounding tissues.

So, in a clinic or spa, your therapist has all the precautionary and safety equipment needed after a therapeutic massage like an ice pack for immediate prevention of inflammation.

5. Who needs a therapeutic massage?

  • Anyone having muscle spasms, trigger points, or tight deep muscles needs a therapeutic massage.
  • I recommend the ischemic compression method of therapeutic massage for trigger points as it breaks the adhesions and improves the circulation to these points.
  • The facia release technique is recommended for people with spasms, muscle shortening, or contractures after injury.

Note: Therapeutic massage is not suitable for someone who needs a relaxation effect because the deep pressure is uncomfortable for the client, however, it should not be painful.

6. Cost of therapeutic massage

A therapeutic massage is more expensive than a Swedish massage. It costs somewhere between $90 to $180 per session.


Massage typeSwedishTherapeutic
TechniqueSuperficial, light, slow, and long strokesDeep strokes with increasing pressure
EffectGeneralized effectLocalized effect
IndicationFatigue, Anxiety, Lymphatic drainageSpasms, Trigger points, Tightness
ConvenienceMore convenient at homeNeeds to visit a massage spa
CostRelatively less expensiveExpensive
ComfortVery comfortableSlightly uncomfortable but painless
RisksRisk-freeDeep pressure might hurt surrounding tissues

Which One Is Good for You? Therapeutic Or Swedish Massage?

difference between therapeutic and swedish massage

If you are exhausted from the daily grind and want to recharge your mind and body for efficient working, then I would recommend you get a Swedish massage session. Besides that, if you are recovering from a recent surgery or cancer treatment, then your body also needs a soothing Swedish massage session to aid the lymphatic system.

On the other hand, if you are a sports person, or you have to work with constant lifting and lowering tasks, then you might have muscle aches, knots, or stiffness in your neck and back, for which I recommend you to have a therapeutic massage session.

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