What is a Deep Tissue Massage?
This is a type of massage that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles. It is used for chronic aches and pain and contracted areas such as a stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders.
Some of the strokes are the same as those used in classic massage therapy, but the movement is slower and the pressure is deeper and concentrated on areas of tension and pain in order to reach the sub-layer of muscles and the fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles).
How does it work?
With a chronic muscle tension or injury, there may be adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) in muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Adhesions can disrupt circulation and cause pain, limited movement, and inflammation.
Deep tissue massage will work by physically breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain and restore normal movement. To do this, your therapist may use deep finger, thumb, elbows and knuckles with some massage lotion and often add pressure on particular areas of your body.
Does 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 you experience is outside your comfort range.
But you can also find the "good pain" that feeling where pain relief is experienced at the same time, that is the exact moment where adhesions and constraints in the muscles and joints are released.
After the storm comes the calm!
There is usually some pain after a deep tissue massage, but it should subside within a day or two. The massage therapist may recommend applying cold and heat to the area after the massage or taking Epsom salt baths.
Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage
- Reduces chronic pain
- Improved recovery from injury
- Improves mobility (helps with posture imbalances)
- Reduces muscle soreness, tightness and spasms from physical activity
- Triggers the release of oxytocin and serotonin (boosts mood and relaxation)
- Reduces cortisol and heart rate (lowers stress)
Deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, such as chronic muscle pain, injury rehabilitation, and the following conditions:
- Chronic pain
- Lower back pain
- Limited mobility
- Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, falls, sports injury)
- Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Muscle tension in the hamstrings, glutes, IT band, legs, quadriceps, rhomboids, upper back
- Osteoarthritis pain
- Piriformis syndrome
- Tennis elbow
- Muscle tension or spasm
- After a workout or bodybuilding
- Whiplash If inflamed
- Intervertebral disc problems
- Embolism or Thrombus
- Bipolar Disorder
- Autoimmune diseases
- Connective tissue disease such as osteomyelitis, lupus, scleroderma.
- High blood pressure
- Cerebral Palsy
- Intra Uterine Device (may become displaced, possibly leading to complications.)
- Menstruation (if strong)
- Recent Cosmetic surgery
- Abscess teeth
- Bone fractures or acute soft tissue injuries: wait for full healing (6 weeks - 3 months)
- Clients on Cortisone: (wait 2-3 months)
- Hodgkin's disease (cancer of lymph system)
- Inflammatory conditions (includes such things as tendonitis and bursitis; contraindicated during acute stages; can be worked peripheral to site possible when inflammation has subsided)
- Infectious conditions (with some exceptions, like HIV: get medical supervision)
- Osteoporosis (usually found in post-menopausal women)
- Phlebitis: same risk as for 'embolism or thrombus'
- Recent scar tissue (including regular or plastic surgeries): no work on this area until scarring process is complete (usually at least 6 weeks).