Deep Tissue Massage Explained – This massage is a type of bodywork focused on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. Therapists develop movement in these tissues to increase flexibility, relieve tension, improve circulation and range of motion, enhance function to prevent injuries, and reduce pain.
Deep tissue massage therapy has proven helpful for many chronic conditions such as arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), fibromyalgia, low back pain, repetitive-stress injuries (RSI), scoliosis, sprains/strains, plantar fasciitis (heel pain), sports injuries/muscle tears.
It can also be beneficial after surgery or recovering from an injury such as whiplash, during rehabilitation to regain motion and flexibility after an accident, or overall well-being.
It isn’t a Swedish massage. The strokes are slower and firmer than those used in classic massage therapy. The therapist may use her fingertips, knuckles, or even elbows to apply deeper pressure. Relaxation techniques often aren’t used because it’s difficult for the therapist to do them while putting them under deep pressure.
It isn’t a luxury massage. This type of bodywork is about realigning tissue and releasing tough spots that contribute to pain and discomfort, not pampering you with gentle strokes. It isn’t one-size-fits-all. Every client should clearly understand what they will be receiving before the therapist works on them.
The ultimate goal is to make your muscles more pliable, which reduces stiffness and improves flexibility. The therapist relies on long strokes (but can also use small, concentrated movements) to work into deeper layers of muscle tissue.
It helps athletes increase circulation and range of motion, release knots in muscles, and improve muscle performance. It can also reduce the pain that may hinder your performance.
Studies show this massage helps to increase blood flow to restricted muscles and joints, which can improve the movement of tight or stiff joints.
Therapists use it to help break down scar tissue, flush away waste products (such as lactic acid ) from injured muscle tissue, and stimulate the lymphatic system, an important part of the body’s defense system against disease.
You should never feel sharp or shooting pains during the massage and if you do, you should tell your therapist immediately. If the massage feels good, there is no reason to be concerned, but if you are in any pain upon beginning your session, stop immediately because this could cause damage to muscles or tissue that may take months to heal properly.
Deep tissue massage therapy can benefit almost everyone and is available through chiropractors, physical therapists, medical spas, sports clinics, gyms (on an individual basis), some medical doctors. Many companies offer onsite deep tissue massages for employees; check with local hospitals, sports clubs/centers, and fitness centers.
The best way to find out what type of massage will work best for you is to try deep tissue massage first, then decide if you should switch to a lighter touch. If you have a condition that requires regular massage therapy, talk to your doctor first before scheduling a session.
This can be provided by physical therapists, chiropractors, medical spas, athletic trainers, and trained massage therapists who have specialized training in deep tissue work.
The best way to find out what type of massage will work best for your particular situation is to try both deep tissue and light touch massages first, then decide if you should stick with light or go deeper. Before getting a massage from anyone, it’s always smart to check their state licenses at the National Certification Board Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.
It should always be pressure-driven. Why? Because it is impossible to maintain any kind of rhythm while using your hand and fingers only — especially when massaging deeper layers.
One way around this problem is by having the client use their body weight applied with gravity to aid in the exhalation so that the therapist doesn’t have to do all the work. If they don’t, you will feel like they aren’t even touching you — unless they are so hard that it’s painful.
Keep in mind that other types of massages may be similar to deep tissue, but they aren’t. Be careful about what type of massage you are getting before you commit or sign up for a series because it could get confusing and frustrating if you get the wrong style of massage.
Deep tissue massage is designed to release chronic muscle tension/knots caused by stress or overuse. It can also help reduce pain and improve the quality of your immune system. If you have an injury, this type of massage can also help increase blood circulation to speed up healing time. Deep tissue massage has benefits for both men and women.
If you suffer from migraines or fibromyalgia, deep tissue is one of the best types of massage available since it can provide great relief from these conditions.