Swedish Massage vs. Shiatsu: Which One Is Better?

ocal Massage Therapists Near Jacksonville

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing or therapeutic massage, there are plenty of options. Two popular methods of massage are Swedish and Shiatsu.

If you’re considering a massage, you may wonder whether to choose Swedish or Shiatsu. It’s essential to understand the differences between the two before making a decision.

Both have advantages and disadvantages depending on your needs, so we will compare them side-by-side. 

Comparing Swedish Massage and Shiatsu Therapy 

Are you looking for a massage therapy option that relieves stress, increases range of motion, and promotes relaxation? If so, then consider either Swedish massage or Shiatsu. Both are popular forms of bodywork but differ in technique and approach. Let’s compare the two to determine which one is right for you. 

These massage styles both have their unique benefits and drawbacks. Swedish massage focuses on manipulating superficial layers of muscle, while Shiatsu targets deep tissue massage of the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. Swedish massage also uses oil for lubrication, while Shiatsu does not.

Swedish massage can help improve circulation and reduce muscle tension, while Shiatsu can improve flexibility and joint Mobility.

What Is Swedish Massage? 

A Swedish massage is a classic form of massage therapy that has been around since the early 1800s.

It consists of 5 main techniques:

  • Effleurage (long gliding strokes),
  • Petrissage (kneading and lifting)
  • Tapotement (rhythmic tapping)
  • Friction (circular movements)
  • Vibration massage

These are all used to relieve sore muscles and improve circulation. The goal of Swedish massage is to relax the entire body by increasing oxygen flow into blood vessels and releasing toxins from muscles.

It can also reduce tension headaches, improve digestion, reduce pain from chronic arthritis, and boost immunity. 

Swedish massage is the most popular type in the Western world, with soft, gentle pressure applied to the muscles.

The masseuse will use circular movements on larger muscle groups and kneading techniques on smaller ones.

It can help reduce muscle tension, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. It’s great for those looking for a more general massage that works all over the body rather than focusing on one specific area. 

Swedish massage aims to relax the body and mind.

Swedish Massage Benefits

  • Blood pressure
  • Improves range of motion
  • Increased circulation
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Improved mood

What is Shiatsu?  

Shiatsu massage is Japanese bodywork that has been around for centuries. It uses pressure applied with thumbs, palms, fingers, elbows, knees, feet—or even sticks—to the acupressure points on your body to stimulate meridian pathways in the body.

Unlike Swedish massage, which focuses on relaxation through muscle manipulation, Shiatsu works with your energy system by restoring balance within it.

This helps promote overall wellness while relieving stress-related symptoms such as insomnia or muscle tension.

Shiatsu also offers physical benefits like improving flexibility and increasing the range of motion in joints. 

The masseuse will apply pressure with their fingers and then rerelease it; this helps to stimulate energy flow through your body, which can help relieve tension and improve overall well-being.

Shiatsu is particularly good for those suffering from chronic pain or stress as it helps to target these areas specifically. This kind of deep kneading shiatsu massage therapy takes place on a mat on the floor.

Unlike Swedish massages, primarily done with hands-on techniques, Shiatsu involves no oils or creams. Practices include acupressure, moxibustion, and stretching exercises (using heat from burning herbs).

This type of massage works by unblocking energy pathways in the body and can be used for relaxation or treatments for pain management or illness relief.  

Shiatsu encourages relaxation, lowers stress, and supports the body’s natural healing processes. Pressure is applied in three ways:

  1. Vertical Pressure
  2. Stable Sustained Pressure
  3. Supporting Pressure

Benefits Shiatsu Massage

  • Relaxation
  • Pain relief Improves Mobility
  • Reduces Stress and Fatigue
  • Increases Energy Levels
  • Promote Better Circulation
  • Improves circulation
  • Improves flexibility
  • Increase energy levels

Types of Massage Cushions

The 2 Main types of massage cushions are:

  • Massage Chair Pad

A device fastened to a chair and provides a thorough back massager is known as a massage chair pad. Rollers, nodes, air chambers, or a mix of all three are frequently used in chair pads.

  • Massage Pillow or Cushion

A massage pillow or cushion is a product that comes in various sizes and forms and has vibrating points or nodes. It can be applied directly to the painful area to ease discomfort in the neck pain.

Best Massage Chair Pads

There are different massage chair pads available in the market today. Check the list below and pick the massage cushion that fits your body shape and height.

  • Njoie Vibrating and Heated Shiatsu Massage Seat 
  • RENPHO Shiatsu Massage Chair Pad with Heat 
  • Naipo Shiatsu Back and Neck Massager with Heat 
  • Snailax Shiatsu Massage Seat Cushion with Heat
  • HoMedics Quad-Roller Kneading Shiatsu Massage Cushion Zyllion ZMA14 Shiatsu Neck

These massage chairs come with different massage techniques and offer various intensity levels.

Most of them have adjustable kneading, tapping, rolling, and heated vibration massage settings that are adjustable to suit your needs.

Additionally, some chair massagers come with heat and airbag functions to offer a more comprehensive massage experience.


Swedish massage and Shiatsu offer different benefits depending on what you want to achieve from your session.

Swedish is excellent if you’re looking for general relaxation, while Shiatsu offers targeted relief from specific issues such as chronic pain or stress.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference – you can decide which best suits your needs by understanding the difference between these two techniques.

Whichever technique you choose, regular massages can have many long-term health benefits, so make sure to book yourself in!

When choosing between Swedish massage vs. Shiatsu therapy, it depends on what kind of experience you are looking for and your individual needs.

Both forms of bodywork provide numerous health benefits, so it’s up to you to decide which one will best meet your needs.

Ultimately both can provide excellent results when done correctly by massage therapists, so research and find out which is right for you!

Chenie Taton