Are you experiencing stress, muscle soreness, or pain? Do you feel like your body is a giant knot of tense muscles? Deep tissue massage therapy might be the solution to your problems.
Massage therapy has been around for thousands of years. Ancient cultures documented the use of massage, including Hindus, Persians, and Egyptians, who used massage to cure many different illnesses and ailments.
Massage is still widely accepted as both a tool for relaxation and stress relief and also to alleviate pain, treat arthritis, bursitis, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression, among other conditions. Deep tissue massage is one advanced massage technique to address certain issues.
Keep reading to learn more about deep tissue massage therapy and some of its benefits.
What Is Deep Tissue Massage Therapy?
Deep tissue massage therapy isn’t just a Swedish massage with deeper strokes or harder pressure. Deep tissue massages use firm pressure and slow stroked to massage deep layers of muscle and fascia, which is the connective tissue that surrounds your muscles.
Deep tissue massages are used to break up scar tissue and break down muscle adhesions (the “knots” that we feel in our muscles are muscle adhesions, which are bands of rigid and painful muscle tissue). These knots can inhibit our circulation and cause pain and inflammation.
When the massage begins, your massage therapist usually starts with lighter pressure to warm up your muscles and then works into deeper pressure.
The common techniques used in deep tissue massage therapy include stripping, which is deep pressure that glides along the length of your muscle fibers and friction, which applies pressure across the grain of your muscle to break up adhesions and align tissue fibers.
What Are the Benefits?
Deep tissue massages have benefits for both your physical and mental health. Any massage will have numerous benefits for the receiver, making them an an easy way to relax and treat your medical issues.
Deep tissue massage is a great stress reliever. Whether you are experiencing stress at home or at work, getting a massage is a great way to unplug and relax for an extended period of time.
A massage can help lower cortisol levels and increase levels of oxytocin, which is a hormone that relaxes the body and produces soothing effects.
It can also help with physical symptoms of stress, such as tight muscles and shoulders and tension headaches. A deep tissue massage can address these issues and help your body relax.
There are a number of conditions that deep tissue massage therapy can treat. Chronic pain in the lower back, plantar fasciitis, fibromyalgia, and stiff necks can all be treated with massage therapy.
Muscle tension that usually occurs with chronic pain can also be lessened with deep tissue massage, as it can loosen the tight tissue clusters causing pain.
Research has reported that deep tissue massage is more effective for relieving chronic pain than medication or other medical treatments, and is usually more cost-effective as well.
Lowers Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
Deep tissue massage reduces stress and tension, which impacts blood pressure. Massage has positive impacts on systolic, diastolic, and arterial blood pressure. The massage can also increase production of serotonin, which promotes good feelings and happiness.
Breaks Up Scar Tissue & Makes Movement Easier
In areas where people have scar tissue, they often report chronic pain and stiffness.
Getting regular deep tissue massages can help break up this scar tissue by improving lymphatic circulation and drainage to improve flexibility and range of motion in the area of the scar tissue.
Many people who are recovering from surgery are often encouraged to get deep tissue massages to minimize scar tissue.
Reduces Arthritis Symptoms
Deep tissue massage therapy can be used to treat many different symptoms of arthritis, like pain, stiffness, limited range of motion in joints, and sleep issues.
Moderate pressure can reduce arthritis pain and ease tension, making it easier for those with arthritis to move around. It can also help with sleep issues by alleviating pain that may keep arthritis patients awake at night.
Rehabilitates Injured Muscles
If you have injured muscles, a deep tissue massage can help stretch tight or twisted muscles and can also facilitate the movement of toxins from your muscles.
Deep tissue massage therapy is used frequently to treat sports-related injuries. Many athletes are incorporating deep tissue massage into their recovery protocols, as they can help delay the onset of muscle soreness, help with muscle fatigue, and prevent injuries.
Helps With Labor and Delivery
Deep tissue massage can help women control their pain during labor. Even prior to labor, prenatal massages are a great way for women to relax and ease tight muscles due to pregnancy. The increases in cortisol also help women minimize depression, anxiety, and leg and back pain.
Some research has even suggested that women who received regular massages prior to and during labor had less pain than those who did not receive regular massages and found that their labors were shorter than women who did not regularly receive massages.
Schedule Your Massage Today
Whether you are an athlete, suffering from arthritis, or are pregnant, there are benefits to deep tissue massage therapy that can help you.
Learn more about the benefits of massage and other techniques to reduce pain and inflammation on our blog and contact us today to book your first appointment and get on the road to wellness.
What is deep tissue massage?
Deep tissue massage is a massage technique that’s mainly used to treat musculoskeletal issues, such as strains and sports injuries. It involves applying sustained pressure using slow, deep strokes to target the inner layers of your muscles and connective tissues. This helps to break up scar tissue that forms following an injury and reduce tension in muscle and tissue.
It may also promote faster healing by increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation.
Read on to learn more about deep tissue massage, including how it stacks up against Swedish massage and what to expect during a session.
How does it compare to Swedish massage?
Deep tissue massage and Swedish massage are two different types of massage therapy. Both use some of the same strokes, but they have different uses and vary greatly when it comes to the amount of pressure used.
Here are the key differences between deep tissue massage and Swedish massage:
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Read more about the differences between Swedish massage and deep tissue massage.
What happens during the massage?
Before your deep tissue massage, your massage therapist will want to know about your problem areas. A deep tissue massage can involve your entire body or just one area.
Once ready, you’ll be asked to lie on your back or stomach, under a sheet. Your level of undress is based on your comfort, but the area being worked on will need to be exposed.
The massage therapist will warm up your muscles using a lighter touch. Once you’re warmed up, they’ll start working on your problem areas. They’ll use deep kneading and stroking with varying amounts of intense pressure.
Are there any side effects?
It’s not unusual to have some lingering soreness for a few days following a deep tissue massage. Using a heating pad or a cold pack wrapped in a towel may help to relieve soreness.
Though massage therapy is generally safe, deep tissue massage uses very firm pressure and may not be safe for everyone.
Speak to your doctor before having a deep tissue massage if you:
- have a history of blood clots or a clotting disorder
- are taking blood thinners
- have a bleeding disorder
- have cancer or are undergoing cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation
Anyone with osteoporosis or cancer that’s spread to the bones should avoid deep tissue massage as the firm pressure used may cause a fracture. You should also hold off on deep tissue massages if you’re pregnant. Gentler types of massage, such as Swedish massage, may be a better option.
If you have an open wound or skin infection of any kind, you’ll need to reschedule to avoid developing a new infection or making an existing one worse.
How do I find a therapist?
If you want to try a deep tissue massage, it’s important to work with a qualified massage therapist.
To find a massage therapist:
- ask your doctor or physical therapist for a referral
- ask friends and family for a recommendation
- search the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork’s database
- use the America Massage Therapy Association’s database
As you sort through potential massage therapists, keep a few things in mind:
- Area of focus. Not all massage therapists specialize in deep tissue massage. Some are trained in several types while others focus their practice on one or two. Be sure to ask if they offer deep tissue massage and what conditions they have experience treating.
- Cost. Ask about the cost per session and whether they offer cost-saving incentives, such as a sliding-scale option. You might also want to check with your health insurance provider, as some cover massage therapy, especially for specific conditions.
- Credentials. Ask for credentials and make sure that the therapist is licensed to practice massage therapy in your area. In the United States, most states regulate the massage therapy profession.
The bottom line
Deep tissue massage is best suited for people who engage in highly physical activities, such as running, or those who have an injury or chronic pain.
If you have a low pain threshold or are looking for relief of tense muscles, Swedish massage is gentler and may be a better option. Speak with your doctor before trying deep tissue massage if you have an underlying medical condition.