Swedish and deep-tissue massage are two bodywork approaches that render very different benefits. Read our guide to choose the best option for you.
The relationship between deep-tissue and Swedish massage is much like that between DayQuil and NyQuil. Both are designed to help you feel better, but the one that makes the most sense depends on your individual needs. Here's what to expect from each of the two modalities:
Swedish massage combines four distinct motions?effleurage, petrissage, friction, and tapotement?to help relieve muscle tension and stimulate blood flow, thereby energizing the body and soothing the mind during a single relaxing session. The four phases are easy enough to distinguish. Effleurage refers to the smooth, gliding strokes that help relax soft tissues at the beginning of the treatment, followed by the squeezing, rolling, or kneading gestures of petrissage. Deep, circular motions make up the friction phase, in which layers of tissue rub against one another to boost circulation. Therapists conclude the massage with tapotement, a rapid cadence of percussive taps performed with cupped hands, fingers, or the edge of the hand.
Whereas Swedish massage focuses on relieving mental and physical tension, deep-tissue massage has more specific concerns. Due to stress and other factors, the layer of connective tissue that covers and interpenetrates the body's muscles and bones?the fascia?often tenses up, resulting in muscle knots and a painful buildup of lactic acid. Deep-tissue massage aims to warm up the fascia and release the accumulated toxins. To achieve this, the therapist?s fingers, thumbs, and elbows move along the body in slow, deliberate strokes, applying pressure to penetrate beyond superficial muscle layers. Although the intensity can produce some discomfort, deep-tissue massage should still be relaxing; the goal, after all, is to relieve the tension between muscles and their weird roommate, the skeleton.
With the rise of environmental illnesses and cancers in recent years, Dr. Thomas Taylor and his staff at Alaska Healing Touch have a healthy distrust of chemicals. That's why virtually everything that might touch clients' skin during their massage or chiropractic evaluation is chemical free and organic. Organic, food-grade massage oils come completely free of allergens and fragrance, as do the soft, organic sheets—which have been cleaned in a facility equally devoid of chemical fragrances and detergents. Dr. Taylor's massage expertise is treating auto- and work-related injuries.
The massage therapists at Wellsprings Medical Massage focus on medical bodywork that’s designed to reduce pain. Upon establishing the source of the pain with an evaluation, they ease aches by drawing from several types of massages, such as hot stone, trigger-point therapy, and myofascial release. Techniques and tools such as accucupping and the Miracle Body Buffer further heal and relax clients. Afterward, they extend postmassage relief by arming clients with detailed aftercare instructions.
Clients relax as they sip frothy beers and tart ciders amid the elegant white décor of The Wax Bar's lobby before following aestheticians back to a private treatment room for one of a broad repertoire of signature hair-removal services. Staff at The Wax Bar's two locations aim to make waxing or sugaring a luxurious and dignified experience, soothing clients' jangling nerves with drinks from the wet bar. Each aesthetician boasts a repertoire of discomfort-minimizing tricks to ensure sugaring and waxing services for men and women's brows, backs, and bikinis go as swiftly and painlessly as possible. After follicles have said their tearful goodbyes to unwanted hair, aestheticians apply aftercare products and advise clients on the best way to reduce irritation on freshly bare skin. Staff members also offer facials whose targeted therapies incorporate products from Dermalogica and Aveda.
As a native Alaskan, the owner of Embody understands the physical toll that the area’s harsh winters and surplus of outdoor activities can take on muscles. The massage center’s services take into account this Alaskan way of life, and its certified therapists cater to their neighbors' pain-relief needs with therapeutic bodywork that targets muscles ailing from cold weather or the heavy burden of layered sweaters. Candles, plants, and rock fountains surround the plush beds in the treatment rooms, where therapists ply muscles with soothing massages that ease medical injuries and quiet stress. Essential oils and footbaths can be added on to any treatment; if you crave further relaxation, take home some of Embody’s collection of locally made teas, lotions, and bath salts.