Shiatsu vs. Swedish Massage- Which One is for you?

In this century, no one is ready to face medication when there’s an alternative way to solve their conditions. This is because of the expensive nature of some medicine and certain side-effects that most patients can’t bear. In this debate of shiatsu vs. Swedish massage, we need to find out the one that suits you best.

There are numerous kinds of massage, but I’m going to dwell on four main ones.

This article will also touch on other seven types of massage. I bet that you’ll be spoilt for choices on which kind of massage you should adopt and those you need to ignore.

What is a shiatsu massage?

This is a Japanese concept of massage that focuses mainly on the localized areas. In this kind of massage, oil or lotions are not in use. Instead, there’s the use of a traditional Chinese medicine. This qualifies the massage to be called as an ideal Asian massage as it incorporates features from the two top nations in Asia.

shiatsu massageshiatsu massage

The therapist uses his or her fingers on you to activate the flow of energy in within your body. However, sometimes a therapist might opt to use his or her elbows. The flow of energy usually promotes relaxation because it accesses acupressure points.

Many people find it comfortable in undertaking this massage as it allows them to remain with some clothing. At the end of this massage, the increase in energy will bring recovery to your injuries as well as stimulate your digestive system.

The massage is good for cases such as; sinus problems, insomnia and back/neck pain. Besides, if you have arthritis, this could offer a good treatment to the condition.

What does Swedish massage include?

This is the foundation of massage and the most common massage you’ll encounter any spa you visit. I know you’re wondering why the name Swedish came in place when their other giant nations in Europe. The truth is that the concepts of this massage are ideas of the Swedish physician called Per Henrik Ling. He lived in the 19th Century in the years of 1776-1839, and he worked at the University of Stockholm.

This is that massage that almost touches the entire parts of the body. This requires a session of massage that takes at least 50 minutes and can last for 90 minutes. During that session of massage, you’ll be completely naked in order to allow the therapist to work with ease.

Swedish massageSwedish massage

The process of massage involves massive stroke massage. Some notable strokes are; friction, effleurage, vibration, and petrissage. Only a trained and licensed therapist can do it. Unlike the Asian massages that focus on energy, Swedish massage is based on the concept of Physiology and Anatomy.

There’s the use of massage oil on the adhered tissues that help in releasing tension thus relaxation. However, for you to achieve the full result, you need to tell the therapist the exact location of the regions of pain and tightness.

What’s the difference: Shiatsu vs. Swedish massage?

Now that I’ve introduced to you what each means, it’s easy to distinguish them. 

  • Well, Swedish massage is a massage that works on European concept on Physiology and Anatomy. On the other hand, Shiatsu massage is an Asian type of massage that works on the concept of the energy flow.
  • In shiatsu massage, you can be allowed to be in minimal clothing, but that won’t be the case in Swedish massage. This is because Swedish massage requires you to be nude so that the therapist can access key points on your body. I know you begin to worry how on earth you’re going to expose your nakedness to a complete stranger. That shouldn’t worry you at all because you’ll get used to it the more you go for a massage.
  • In Shiatsu massage, there’s use of fingers only on the localized areas, but sometimes a therapist can use his elbows. In the Swedish massage, the main way to massage is through the use of massage strokes nearly everywhere on your body. The period of massage is longer in Swedish massage than in Shiatsu massage.
  • In Swedish massage, there is the use of lotion and massage oils. This isn’t evident in shiatsu massage where oils and lotions aren’t in use. However, the Asian massage incorporates the use of the traditional Chinese medicines.
  • The foundation of all massages will always remain the Swedish massage. This is to mean that when you’re making you debut in the spa for a massage, the therapist will most likely recommend it to you. Other types of massage including Shiatsu massage will only come after Swedish massage which forms the basis. 

Both the massage can help in treating varied health conditions such as; insomnia, back pain, and headache. But the Swedish massage will have an increased benefit because it heals chronic pain conditions.

What’s the difference between a deep tissue massage and a Swedish massage?

The deep tissue massages always aim at the muscle knots. These knots are also called adhesions. This isn’t the same case in Swedish massage where the focus is everywhere on your body.

It’s true that deep tissue massage is more intense than that one of Swedish massage. The strokes in deep tissue massage can begin from slow and eventually increase, something that’s absent in Swedish massage.

The main reason why people go for the Swedish massage is for relaxation. This doesn’t dispute the fact that the massage has other health values like the healing effects. Deep tissue massage addresses specific health issues. These issues include; chronic pain, postural problems, and chronic pains. You’d be right if you said that the Swedish massage offers general massage.

Seven types of massage

Other than the three types of massages I’ve already explained to you, I’ll give six more to help you make your picks appropriately.  At least that will be lenient enough because the whole article will enable you to know a total of nine types of massage. They include the following:

hot stone massage

  • Hot Stone Massage: The name suggests it all. Yes, it involves the use of heated stone to provide warmth to the muscles thus bringing relaxation. The stone which is preferred in this case is basalt as it can retain heat for a long time.

This massage will offer the remedy to conditions such as; heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. In addition, should your doctor recommend to you blood thinning treatment; this is a right program for you.

  • Aromatherapy massage: This is another form of Swedish massage that involves the use of scented plant oil and the massage oil. The scented oils are also called essential oils. Examples are Lavender and Rose that you can use to promote relaxation.

Aromatherapy Essential Oils


This type of massage helps in the treatment of back pain, digestive issue, and premenstrual symptoms. However, you need to avoid the massage especially when your body is allergic to such oils.

  • Sports Massage: This is becoming very common especially with the athletes who want to remain fit for their activities. It’s safe when you say that this massage enhances flexibility in athletes. You can have the massage when you’re preparing for an activity or when you want to recover from injuries. In addition, this massage can help in preventing injuries.
  • Reflexology massage: This is unique because it’s a massage for the feet targeting the reflex points. The therapist will have to balance the CNS and endorphins in order to alleviate stress and increase comfort.

This is the ideal massage for you when you stand a lot during the day and when you’re always in closed shoes. If you observe it before sleeping, your sleeping problems can diminish. 

  • Pregnancy massage: You can also call it a prenatal massage. It’s popular for the expectant mothers. Due to the delicate nature of the patients, only the trained therapist should undertake it.

If you’re an expecting mother who needs relaxation without the use of medicine, then this is for you.

thai massage photo
Photo by infomatique
  • Thai massage: This is another Asian concept of massage that involves a combination of yoga, passive movement and pressing massage movements. This makes it unique from other massages as it energizes the body. It’s good that you don’t have to remove your clothes while doing this like other massages.

It reduces a migraine, stress and enhances flexibility. 

So, which one is for you?

This is a hard call to make as both the Swedish massage and Shiatsu massage have massive health benefits. This won’t deter me from making an informed judgment and trust me because I’m not going to be biased.

I would go for the Swedish massage because it’s the most original massage. In addition, the massage doesn’t involve the use of any medicine, something that makes it free from any side-effects.

It’s clear that the Swedish massage touches nearly all parts of your body and in your birth status.  Shiatsu massage won’t match it you’ll be in some garments when only areas of focus are tackled.


I won’t mind which kind of massage you frequent, but you’ll agree with me that you need to embrace a culture of massage. This is because of the numerous health benefits and absence of side-effects.  However, Shiatsu massage vs. Swedish massage will always dominate any conversation about massage.

References /top types of massage’s the difference between all these types of massage difference between Swedish and Shiatsu massage 

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