Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy which uses firm pressure and slow strokes in order to reach deeper layers of muscles, tendons, and fascia, which is the protective layer surrounding you muscles, bones, and joints. A deep tissue massage is especially helpful for individuals who suffer chronic aches and pains.
How it Works
Deep tissue massage isn’t the same as having a regular massage with deep pressure. At the beginning of the massage, lighter pressure is applied to warm up and prep the muscles, then specific techniques are applied to targeted areas. These techniques target and physically break down scar tissue and muscle “knots” or adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) that can disrupt circulation and cause pain, limited range of motion, and inflammation. Also, you may be asked to breathe deeply as your massage therapist works on tense areas.
The most common Deep Tissue Massage techniques are:
Stripping: Deep, firm pressure applied in long, slow strokes along the length of the muscle fibers using the therapist’s elbow, forearm, knuckles, and thumbs.
Friction: Pressure applied across the grain of a muscle to release adhesions and realign tissue fibers.
You may feel some stiffness or soreness post-massage, but it should subside within a day or so. Also, drinking water after your massage will help to flush the metabolic waste from the tissues.
Additional Benefits of a Deep Tissue Massage
Aside from making significant improvements against your chronic pain, deep tissues massages have also been found to be beneficial on multiple levels, including:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing stress hormone levels
- Improving heart rate
- Encouraging relaxation
- Improving overall mood
Who Can Benefit From a Deep Tissue Massage?
Deep Tissue Massage is a favorite for individuals with chronic pain, including those with upper back or neck pain, lower back pain, and Fibromyalgia. Deep Tissue Massage can also be extremely beneficial for individuals with the following conditions:
- Limited mobility
- Injuries from whiplash or falls
- Repetitive strain injury (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome)
- Postural problems
- Muscle tension
- Osteoarthritis pain
- Sports concerns (runners, athletes)
- Piriformis syndrome
- Tennis elbow
However, certain individuals should consider speaking with a doctor prior to getting a deep tissue massage, including individuals who are prone to blood clots, recently had surgery, or are pregnant (we have special pre-natal massages available to ease your pregnancy symptoms or discomfort).
Does It Hurt?
You may feel some discomfort or even some pain as the massage therapist works to break down adhesions or scar tissue. However, pain doesn’t mean that the massage is working. In fact, your body may tense up in response to pain, making it harder for the therapist to reach deeper muscles.
You should always tell your massage therapist if you feel pain during the massage. The therapist can adjust the technique they are using, or further prep the area if the superficial muscles are tense.