Swedish massage is usually what people in the western world are referring to when they say they got a massage. The focus of Swedish massage is on anatomy and physiology, as opposed to Asian massage techniques that focus on lines of energy that flow through the body. A Swedish physiologist, Per Henrik Ling, is credited for developing a system of medical gymnastics that later evolved into what we know today as Swedish massage.
What Is the Difference Between Swedish and Thai Massage?
Each type of massage has a fundamentally different ideology that influences how the massage is performed. These differences are large enough that some people can have different results depending on which type they get.
Swedish massage has an emphasis on physiology with a specialization in releasing knots, tension, and pain through a variety of different techniques. Some of these techniques include:
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The massage therapist can also adjust the intensity of the massage from gentle to grueling at the request of the client. Swedish massage also allows the client to focus on massaging particular parts of the body that need more relief.
Thai massage is often referred to as “lazy yoga” because of how much the client moves, flexes, and stretches compared to a Swedish massage. The client is stretched, pulled, or manipulated to invigorate muscles, rather than rubbing or massaging the muscles themselves. Blood flow throughout the body is often controlled by the massage therapist, who can temporarily restrict blood flow to some parts of the body to release that pressure and allow the blood to rush back into the body part. It feels warm and energizing!
Which Type of Massage Is Right for Me?
The short answer is that it depends! You need to be sure to pick a massage that is right for your body and what your body needs. Thai massages are excellent for increasing flexibility and circulation, while Swedish massages take special care to alleviate specific pain points in the body.
Another thing to consider is your personal comfort level with things like massage oils and nudity. In a Swedish massage, the client is usually nude and covered in a massage sheet or towel. Clients can also choose to keep their underwear on if they are nervous during their first few visits. The massage therapist only reveals the part of the client they are working on, and these massages are performed in private. Modesty is always preserved for the client. The nudity is required in order to use the massage oils that traditionally come with a Swedish massage.
If you are uncomfortable with the nudity involved in a typical Swedish massage, or your skin could react negatively to the massage oils, consider trying a Thai massage. Thai massages are performed while the client is fully clothed and does not use any massage oils. These massages are also often performed in rooms with space for multiple people to be massaged at the same time.
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