Shiatsu vs. Swedish Massage

A massage is intended to help you relax. However, there are many different types of massages, and some massages work better for some than others. This can all depend on your needs. Two types of massages to consider are Shiatsu and Swedish. While they both are similar in some ways, they do have some notable differences.

Let's begin with Shiatsu Massage

This massage originated in Japan. Shiatsu is intended to help move the body’s energy so it will flow better, making you feel relaxed.

Shiatsu actually means “finger pressure” and this is exactly what this type of massage incorporates. During a Shiatsu massage, the massage therapist will use their hands, arms, fingers, and elbows to work on your body’s pressure points.

The massage therapist will use rotations and stretches to help the body’s energy flow. Shiatsu massage focuses on the 12 meridians (also known as Qi) in your body such as the lungs, large intestines, stomach, and liver.

A Shiatsu massage is very similar to acupuncture because it focuses on mainly using the fingers to relieve pressure points.

In fact, there are special terms for these points in Shiatsu massage: back-shu and front-mu.

These points are used when a Shiatsu massage is given, so the massage therapist can focus on the specific meridians these two types have.

A Shiatsu massage isn’t just a form of relaxation, but also one that requires you to move your body. Because of this, while receiving this type of massage, you’ll work to help improve your breathing and posture.

Benefits of a Shiatsu Massage

  • It helps with the body’s circulation and making it flow better.

  • This type helps greatly with digestion.

  • ​This massage type has been shown to help with tightening your skin. This can help prevent wrinkles and give you healthier looking skin.
  • A Shiatsu massage will help you gain more energy and feel more energetic. This is due to you having to move your body while receiving this massage.

What about the Swedish Massage

A Swedish massage is usually one of the more common massage types. For this type, a massage therapist will use their hands and palms just like in Shiatsu.

However, a Swedish massage works with four major techniques: effleurage, friction, petrissage, and percussion. Each of these types then go into more specific movements.

These include gliding, kneading, tapping, and shaking. When having this type of massage done, you’ll be completely undressed so the massage can work better with your body.

Massage oils will be applied on your skin to help you relax even more.

A Swedish massage focuses not on the body’s energy, but rather the body’s anatomy. In a Swedish massage it isn’t the body’s pressure points that are focused on, but rather the body’s muscles.

This type also lets you have different massage levels so you can choose how much power the massage therapist uses on you.

This way you can customize your massage experience to better fit your needs.

Benefits of a Swedish Massage

  • This type of massage is also great for blood circulation.

  • A Swedish massage is known to help relieve pain from injuries and arthritis because a massage therapist can specifically focus on massaging the areas affected by them.

  • This type of massage is perfect to help reduce stress.

  • If you have tense muscles, a Swedish massage will help to relieve them.

What Are the Major Differences Between the Two Types?

There are quite a few major differences to keep in mind about the two.

  • Unlike the Swedish massage, a Shiatsu massage often lets you keep your clothing on while being massaged. This makes it a good choice for someone who wants a massage but feels a little uncomfortable with undressing to receive one.
  • Another major difference is where these two massages take place. A Swedish massage is usually given on a table, while a Shiatsu massage is done on a mat on the floor.
  • If you don’t want to do much during your massage, a Swedish one would be best. With this type, you pretty much just let the massage therapist do all the work. This is a major difference to keep in mind because if you choose a Shiatsu massage, you’ll be moving your body quite a bit and in some unique angles.

What are the Similarities?

These two types are very different but share a few similar aspects. Besides the relaxation factor, both of these massage sessions will typically last the same amount of time.

This is usually about an hour to an hour and a half of massage.

Overall, the major similarity between these two is that they are intended to help you feel better, but do so in their own unique way.

As you can see, both types of massages have their own specific style and benefits. It’s important to know which massage is best for you and how it can help you feel better.

If you want more of a basic massage, a Swedish one is ideal. However, if you want something a little more involved, definitely try the Shiatsu.

Shiatsu vs. Swedish Massage
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