Deep tissue massage is a type of massage aimed at the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and fascia, also called connective tissue. Deep tissue massage uses many of the same movements and techniques as Swedish massage, but the pressure will generally be more intense.
It is also a more focused type of massage, as the therapist works to release chronic muscle tension or knots (also known as ‘adhesions’).
By using deep finger pressure and slow, firm strokes, deep tissue massage is effective in treating a variety of physical ailments. Many doctors recommend deep tissue massage to their patients as a treatment option because of its benefits.
How does it help?
Deep tissue massage increases the flow of blood through the body which helps:
- to reduce the inflammation that causes pain
- to alleviate muscle tension that is often a side effect of chronic pain by loosening the tight tissue clusters
- to ease stress and tension, which can have a beneficial effect on blood pressure
- to increase the body’s production of serotonin, the hormone that promotes happiness and good feelings
Over time, deep tissue massage therapy can help break up and eventually erase scar tissue, often associated with ongoing pain and stiffness in the body. It does this by promoting lymphatic circulation and drainage to improve flexibility and range of motion in the affected area.
What does it treat?
Massage therapy and deep tissue massage are effective recommended treatments for:
- people who are recovering from surgery
- injured muscles: helping the healing process by facilitating the movement of toxins from the muscles and helping to stretch tight or twisted muscle mass
- rehabilitation of sports injuries: its muscle relaxing benefits means it can be used to reduce the pain associated with injury
Will it hurt?
It shouldn’t hurt, but it’s likely to be a bit more uncomfortable than a classic Swedish massage and can sometimes cause discomfort. However, the therapist works with the client’s tolerance levels and you should always feel free to speak up if the pressure is too much for you.
After a deep tissue massage, it’s important to drink a lot of water to help flush lactic acid out of the tissues, as if you don’t, you might be sore the next day.
It’s also possible that you might feel some soreness the day after a deep tissue massage even if you DO drink water. This simply means a lot of waste products were flushed out of the tissues and the soreness should go within a day or so.
We advise people to be realistic about what one deep tissue massage can achieve. For example, many people ask for more pressure, thinking that if the therapist pushes hard enough, they can get rid of all their knots in an hour which just won’t happen.
In fact, undoing chronic knots and tension built up over a lifetime is best achieved with an integrated programme including exercise, postural work, ways of moving, relaxation techniques and a regular schedule of massage.