Knowing Your Swedish from Your Shiatsu: How to Choose the Right Massage Technique

If you’ve never had a professional massage before, trying to figure out which type of treatment to go with can feel pretty daunting. There are certain techniques to relieve pain, while others are great for relaxation. Some work wonders to get rid of stress, while others aim to stretch compacted muscles.  So with so many options to choose from, how do know which is best for you? We’ve put together this cheat sheet to help you decide.


Swedish is the most common type of treatment and it’s a great introduction into massage therapy. Using long, sweeping strokes, your therapist will warm up your muscles and then utilize kneading and rolling techniques to target tension in particular areas. People love Swedish massages for stress relief and relaxation as the variation in techniques can help to alleviate tense muscles and calm the body.

Bottom line: Best for beginners who want to relax and ease slight to moderate tension.

Hot Stone

If you like the idea of a relaxing massage but also want something a bit more soothing, a hot stone massage might be a good option. This massage applies the strokes of a Swedish massage with heated, smooth stones rather than just the hands. The heat from the stones gets transferred into the muscles, which loosens them up and allows for better penetration of the overall technique. This is a great massage for people who enjoy medium pressure and are looking for something relaxing that will still release areas of tension.

Bottom line: Best for pampering, great for relaxation and as a couples treatment.

Deep Tissue

If you’re looking for something with a bit more chutzpah, a deep tissue massage might be right up your alley. This type of massage is great for specific areas of pain and works by applying deep pressure on knotted muscles to alleviate significant pain points. This type of massage is not the most relaxing of the bunch and during the treatment, you’ll likely find the pressure uncomfortable and possibly painful. You may be sore for a few days afterward, but if you have chronic trouble spots, you’ll need this kind of massage to break up that tension and get you back to feeling like yourself again. This treatment is popular for people who have chronic lower back and shoulder pain, often due to sitting at a desk all day.

Bottom line: Best to dissipate pesky knots and to treat more severe muscle pain. Not for the faint at heart.


If you’re an athlete, you’ll likely be interested in this type of massage, which combines a number of different techniques to relieve muscle pain and fatigue based on your individual sport. Sports massages are very therapeutic post workout but can also be performed before an event to prepare the muscles and reduce the risk of injury. A good sports massage will increase blood circulation, stretch the muscle tissue, and can also break down scar tissue from previous injuries.

Bottom line: Best for athletes who want to prevent injury or recover from a big game or workout.


Not all massages are created to ease muscle pain. A shiatsu massage is a technique which originated in Japan and combines finger pressure with gentle stretching to fix imbalances in the flow of energy to the body. People with chronic headaches, sleep issues and trouble letting go of the day often look to this type of healing massage to decrease stress and rebalance the energy in the body.

Bottom line: Best for relaxation and stress relief.


Finally, if you’re looking to improve flexibility and invigorate your body, a Thai massage might be your best bet. This technique uses stretching and manipulation to move your body into yoga-like poses, which lengthens the muscles and improves energy. During this type of massage, your therapist will play a very active role, using his or her arms, hands, knees, and feet to apply pressure to muscles, loosen joints and stretch the limbs. Don’t worry, you’ll be clothed during all this action! If you find yourself in the same position day in and day out, this massage will have you feeling alive and rejuvenated in no time.

Bottom line: Best for improving flexibility and stretching tight muscles.

No matter what type of technique you choose, massage is a therapy that can benefit both the body and mind by repairing overworked muscles and providing quiet time for relaxation. With so many options to choose from, which will you pick? You can check out all the massages available at Body by Brooklyn right here!

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