What is the Difference Between Swedish and Lomi Lomi Massage?

Massage is a popular therapy that has been used for centuries to relieve stress, reduce pain, and promote overall wellbeing. There are many different types of massage, each with their own techniques and benefits.

Two of the more interesting massage styles are Swedish massage and Lomi Lomi massage. But what exactly sets them apart?

In this article, we will compare and contrast Swedish and Lomi Lomi massage so you can understand the key differences between these two popular massages.

Key Facts

  • Swedish massage is one of the most common and gentle styles of massage. It uses long, gliding strokes to promote circulation and relaxation.
  • Lomi Lomi is a Hawaiian massage that incorporates rhythmic motions and focused palm and forearm work. It aims to facilitate healing on a spiritual level.
  • Main differences include: technique, pressure, pacing, purpose, origins and setting.
  • While both can relieve muscle tension, Swedish massage is better for basic relaxation while Lomi Lomi targets deeper therapeutic benefits.
  • Lomi Lomi requires specially trained practitioners while Swedish massage can be performed by most licensed massage therapists.

By understanding the origins, techniques and desired effects behind each massage, you can select the best option for your individual needs.

So, let’s get going!

What is Swedish Massage?

Swedish massage is one of the most popular and well-known massage techniques.

The style takes its name from Pehr Henrik Ling, a Swedish physician and teacher who pioneered this technique in the 1800s as a system of medical gymnastics.

The term “Swedish massage” itself was not used until the late 1800s when practitioners travelling to America began using it.

Swedish Massage

Today, Swedish massage is a structured technique taught in most massage therapy programs. It involves five basic strokes:

  1. effleurage (gliding),
  2. petrissage (kneading),
  3. friction (rubbing),
  4. tapotement (percussion), and
  5. vibration. 

The goal is to relax the muscles by increasing circulation and delivering soothing touch to the body.

During a Swedish massage, the client will lie on a massage table while the therapist applies oil or lotion to the skin. The therapist will use their hands, forearms and sometimes elbows and knees to manipulate the superficial layers of muscles using the five strokes. This massage generally targets the full body.

Swedish massage is:

  • One of the most gentle and relaxing massage techniques
  • Performed on a massage table with the client undressed but covered with a sheet
  • Focused on overall relaxation and circulation
  • Performed by most licensed massage therapists
  • Does not require specialized training beyond basic massage therapy education
  • Uses light to medium pressure
  • Incorporates range of motion and stretching

The effects of Swedish massage include releasing muscle tension, improving flexibility, enhancing circulation, assisting in recovery from exertion and reducing stress hormones in the body.

It can also help normalize physiological functions that are often disrupted by stress and assist with clearing metabolic waste like lactic acid from the tissues.

Many people find Swedish massage perfect for basic stress relief and relaxation. It is often used in spas and wellness facilities. The soothing strokes combined with light to moderate pressure make Swedish massage accessible for most people looking for relaxation and bodywork.

What is Lomi Lomi Massage?

Lomi Lomi massage originated in Hawaii as part of ancient Hawaiian culture and healing practices.

The term Lomi Lomi simply means “to knead, to rub, or soothe” in Hawaiian.

Lomi Lomi Massage

Unlike Swedish massage, Lomi Lomi has a more spiritual style and purpose behind it.

Lomi Lomi practitioners view the body, mind and soul as interconnected. This massage aims to facilitate healing on all levels through nurturing touch and focused intention.

The movements in a Lomi Lomi massage are very fluid and rhythmic, almost dance-like.

The therapist uses forearms and elbows in long, pressing strokes and may incorporate gentle stretches and joint rotations. Practitioners will often pray or chant over the client during the massage.

Some key things to know about Lomi Lomi massage:

  • Based on ancient Hawaiian healing practices
  • Performed on a mat on the floor with client wearing comfortable, loose clothing
  • Uses very gentle yet deep pressure through forearms and elbows
  • Focuses on nurturing spirit and facilitating energy flow through the body
  • Incorporates Hawaiian traditions like prayer and chanting
  • Practitioners must complete extensive Lomi Lomi training to be certified
  • Targets deeper levels of healing beyond basic relaxation

Lomi Lomi massage facilitates deeper release and therapeutic benefits compared to Swedish massage.

The flowing and rhythmic motions create a massage experience that some compare to feeling like you’re being rocked in the ocean.

The style allows the practitioner to address areas of chronic tension and work deeply through the connective tissues and muscles without the repetitiveness sometimes felt in Swedish and other styles.

The combination of gentle yet firm pressure can induce deep relaxation and stress relief.

This spiritual massage style leaves many clients feeling emotionally open, calm and rejuvenated. It is especially popular at Hawaiian retreats and spas.

Zen massage - photo of woman meditating

But you can find quality Lomi Lomi massage practitioners in many major cities across the world as its popularity has spread.

Key Differences Between Swedish and Lomi Lomi Massage

Now that we’ve provided an overview of both Swedish and Lomi Lomi massage, let’s recap some of the main differences:

 Swedish MassageLomi Lomi Massage
OriginsDeveloped in Sweden in 1800sAncient Hawaiian healing tradition
PurposeRelaxation, basic circulationDeeper therapeutic healing physically, mentally, spiritually
Technique5 basic strokes – effleurage, petrissage, friction, tapotement, vibrationFluid, rhythmic motions using forearms and elbows
PressureLight to mediumGentle yet deep
PacePredictable pace and sequenceVarying speeds and rhythm
SettingMassage table, spa, clinicFloor mats in peaceful setting
ClothingUndressed but draped with sheetLoose, comfortable clothing or none
Duration30-60 minutes commonly90 minutes or more
Cost$50-$150 session$200+ per session
Training RequiredLicensure in basic massage therapy
Table showing key differences between Swedish and Lomi Lomi massage.


Swedish massage uses 5 basic strokes focused mainly on the superficial layers of muscle and connective tissue. Lomi Lomi massage incorporates very fluid, rhythmic motions using the forearms and elbows to address deeper layers of muscle and fascia.


The pressure in Swedish massage ranges from light to medium. Lomi Lomi provides deeper pressure through gentle yet firm, fluid motions.


Swedish massage has a more predictable pace and sequence. Lomi Lomi massage varies the speed and tempo, weaving slower, deep motions with faster energetic flows.


The purpose behind Swedish massage is relaxation and basic circulation. Lomi Lomi targets deeper healing physically, mentally and spiritually.


Swedish massage originated as a structured system in the 1800s. Lomi Lomi stems from ancient Hawaiian healing traditions.


Swedish massage takes place on a table in a spa, clinic or private practice. Traditional Lomi Lomi is performed on floor mats in a peaceful setting.

Training Required

Most licensed massage therapists can perform Swedish massage. Lomi Lomi requires specialized training to be considered truly traditional Lomi Lomi.

Massage therapist

As you can see, while both modalities aim to ease tension and facilitate healing, they do so in different ways drawing from separate origins. The right massage comes down to your personal preferences and needs.

How to Choose Between Swedish and Lomi Lomi Massage

Now that you understand the core differences between Swedish massage and Lomi Lomi massage, here are some key factors to consider when choosing which massage style is right for you:

  • Your main goal – If your primary goal is to relax, unwind and de-stress from everyday tension, Swedish massage may be the better option. If you are seeking deeper healing and spiritual renewal, Lomi Lomi may resonate more.
  • Pressure preference – If you want very light, gentle massage pressure, opt for Swedish. If you enjoy feeling deeper work on your muscles, tendons and fascia, Lomi Lomi may be better.
  • Comfort level – Swedish massage allows you to remain clothed and be draped on a table. Lomi Lomi requires more exposure as you lay on a floor mat in loose-fitting or no clothes. Consider your comfort level.
  • Accessibility – It is easier to find a qualified Swedish massage therapist as most spas offer this service. You may have to do more searching to find a properly certified Lomi Lomi practitioner.
  • Time and budget – Swedish massages often last 30-60 minutes for $50-$150 based on factors like location. Lomi Lomi sessions can last 90 minutes or more and cost over $200.
  • Openness to spiritual traditions – Swedish massage does not involve spiritual components. If chanting or prayer does not appeal to you, Lomi Lomi may feel imposing.

By taking these factors into account, you can determine which massage style seems like the best fit for your needs and preferences. Of course, you can also try both and see which you enjoy more!

Experience the Benefits Yourself

Swedish and Lomi Lomi massage offer therapeutic benefits through very different techniques and traditions. There is no universally “better” option—just the right massage style for your individual needs.

By understanding the origins, techniques and desired effects behind Swedish massage and Lomi Lomi massage, you can make an informed decision.

The most important thing is to experience the benefits of professional massage for yourself.

Massage therapy enhances circulation, soothes aches and pains, reduces stress and promotes healing on many levels. Take time to care for your body, mind and spirit by integrating massage into your self-care routine.

With the wide range of modalities available today, you are sure to discover a massage style perfectly suited for you.


Swedish Massage:

  1. Swedish Massage: A Systematic Review of its Physical and… – PubMed: A systematic review of the physical and psychological benefits of Swedish massage.
  2. Swedish Massage Literature and Swedish Massage – NEJM: An article from the New England Journal of Medicine discussing Swedish massage.
  3. Swedish Massage vs. Deep Tissue Massage: Which Should I Choose? – Healthline: A comparison of Swedish and deep tissue massage techniques.
  4. What Is a Swedish Massage? – WebMD: An overview of Swedish massage and its benefits from WebMD.
  5. 12 Benefits of Swedish Massage, How it Works, Candidates – Healthline: An article detailing the benefits of Swedish massage.

Lomi Lomi Massage:

  1. Lomi Lomi as a massage with movements: a conceptual synthesis? – PubMed: A narrative review of the therapeutic modalities of Lomi Lomi massage.
  2. Lomilomi massage – Wikipedia: A Wikipedia article providing a comprehensive overview of Lomi Lomi massage.
  3. What You Need To Know Before Getting A Lomi Lomi Massage – TheList: An article discussing what to expect from a Lomi Lomi massage.
  4. Benefits of Traditional Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage – HowStuffWorks: An article discussing the benefits of traditional Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage.
  5. An Introduction to Lomi Lomi Massage – Core Spirit: An introduction to Lomi Lomi massage and its history.

Q: What is the Difference Between Swedish and Lomi Lomi Massage?

A: Swedish massage and Lomi Lomi massage are two different types of massage techniques that originate from different parts of the world. Swedish massage is a traditional massage technique that originates from Sweden, while Lomi Lomi massage is a traditional Hawaiian massage technique.

Q: What is deep tissue massage?

A: Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on targeting the deep layers of muscles and connective tissues in the body. It uses slow, firm pressure and deep strokes to release muscle tension and alleviate chronic pain.

Q: What are the benefits of Lomi Lomi massage?

A: Lomi Lomi massage provides a wide range of benefits including relaxation, stress reduction, improved circulation, increased flexibility, and relief from muscle tension and pain. It also promotes a sense of well-being and balance.

Q: What are the techniques used in Lomi Lomi massage?

A: Lomi Lomi massage incorporates a variety of techniques including long, flowing strokes, gentle stretching, joint mobilization, and rhythmic movements. It also uses forearm and elbow techniques to apply pressure and release tension.

Q: How is Lomi Lomi massage different from Swedish massage?

A: Lomi Lomi massage and Swedish massage differ in various ways. While Swedish massage focuses on kneading and long, gliding strokes, Lomi Lomi massage uses flowing movements and works on the entire body simultaneously. Additionally, Lomi Lomi massage incorporates spiritual aspects and has a deeper connection to Hawaiian culture.

Q: What is traditional Lomi Lomi massage?

A: Traditional Lomi Lomi massage is a holistic healing practice that originated in ancient Hawaii. It combines massage techniques, breathwork, and energy balancing to promote physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Q: How has Lomi Lomi massage adapted to non-Hawaiians?

A: Lomi Lomi massage has adapted to non-Hawaiians by incorporating elements from other massage modalities, such as Swedish massage and deep tissue massage, to make the practice more accessible and suitable for a wider range of people.

Q: What makes Lomi Lomi massage unique?

A: Lomi Lomi massage is unique in its approach as it treats the body as a whole and aims to restore harmony and balance. It combines physical touch with spiritual and energetic aspects, creating a deeply transformative and holistic experience.

Q: What are the different massage strokes used in Lomi Lomi massage?

A: Lomi Lomi massage uses a variety of massage strokes, including long, flowing movements, circular motions, forearm glides, stretching, and gentle pressure applied with the hands, palms, and elbows.

Q: How can I contact you for a Lomi Lomi massage session?

A: Please use our contact page on our website to get in touch with us and schedule a Lomi Lomi massage session. We will be happy to provide you with more information and assist you with any queries you may have.