What is Deep Tissue Massage?
Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. It is especially helpful for chronically tense and contracted areas such as stiff necks, low back tightness, and sore shoulders.
Some of the same strokes are used as classic massage therapy, but the movement is slower and the pressure is deeper and concentrated on areas of tension and pain.
How Does Deep Tissue Massage Work?
When there is chronic muscle tension or injury, there are usually adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) in muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Adhesions can block circulation and cause pain, limited movement, and inflammation.
Deep tissue massage works by physically breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain and restore normal movement. To do this, the massage therapist often applies direct deep pressure or friction across the grain of the muscles.
Will Deep Tissue Massage Hurt?
At certain points during the massage, most people find there is usually some discomfort and pain. It is important to tell the massage therapist when things hurt and if any soreness or pain you experience is outside your comfort range.
There is usually some stiffness or pain after a deep tissue massage, but it should subside within a day or so. The massage therapist may recommend applying ice to the area after the massage. If you are under the care of a physician for any reason, you need to ask your doctor if you can safely get deep tissue massage. Your therapist cannot know your health risks if you don’t reveal them.
Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage
Unlike classic massage therapy, which is used for relaxation, deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, such as:
Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, falls, sports injury)
Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
Muscle tension or spasm
According to the August 2005 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, 34,000 people ranked deep tissue massage more effective in relieving osteoarthritis pain than physical therapy, exercise, prescription medications, chiropractic, acupuncture, diet, glucosamine and over-the-counter drugs.
Deep tissue massage also received a top ranking for fibromyalgia pain. People often notice improved range of motion immediately after a deep tissue massage.
What Can I Expect During My Visit?
Massage therapists may use fingertips, knuckles, hands elbows, and forearms, and specific trigger point tools during the deep tissue massage.
You may be asked to breathe deeply as the massage therapist works on certain tense areas. Again, if pain is too intense notify your therapist at once so they can reduce the pressure or end the session. If you ever start to feel dizzy or extreme pain ask the therapist to stop.
It is important to drink plenty of water after the massage to flush metabolic waste from the tissues.
Massage is not recommended for certain people. If you have any of these conditions, deep tissue massage is not for you:
Infectious skin disease, rash, or open wounds
Immediately following surgery, and not without a doctor’s permission
Immediately after chemotherapy or radiation, unless recommended by your doctor
People with osteoporosis should consult their doctor before getting a massage and should likely NEVER get deep tissue massage,
People prone to blood clots should NEVER get a deep tissue massage. There is a risk of blood clots being dislodged.
If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before having a massage.
Massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, or areas of recent fractures.
Don’t eat a heavy meal before the massage
If it’s your first time at the clinic or spa, arrive at least 10 minutes early to complete the necessary forms. Otherwise, arrive 5 minutes early so you can have a few minutes to rest and relax before starting the massage.