Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is a type of massage aimed at the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and fascia, also called connective tissue.
One of the biggest misconceptions about deep tissue massage that we have come across is that most people believe that it means applying a lot of hard, deep pressure, and that it is going to hurt. The term ‘deep tissue massage’ actually has nothing to do with the amount of pressure that is applied, but about working the deeper tissue layers of muscle and fascia in order to correct, and heal an area of dysfunction.
As a massage therapist, we treat a lot of athletes and active people. They naturally have the “No Pain, No Gain” mindset and many of them WANT it to feel painful. When someone comes to see us requesting deep tissue massage, we often find ourselves educating them on the difference between deep tissue and deep pressure. It should never be the goal of the therapist to make it painful just to please the client. A deep tissue massage should be slow and thorough, working through the muscle tissues layer, by layer and giving an increased amount of attention to the “knots” and trigger points found along the way.
Many therapists make the mistake of trying to ‘force the issue’. Any skilled therapist will tell you that they get much better results by allowing the tissue to respond on its own, and release under a slower, more focused approach as opposed to forcing it. As with most anything, if you take the forceful approach, it is usually met with increased resistance. Muscles will have more of a tendency to ‘push back’ against a lot of pressure, and with that you aren’t really accomplishing anything with the treatment, except maybe some bruising and soreness the following day. A deep tissue massage also is not meant to be used for a “full body session”, unless you have a specific area of complaint to focus on.
We’re not saying that you won’t have any pain, or discomfort during a deep tissue massage. Working on the trigger points and already sore, tight areas will be somewhat painful. It is usually described more as the ‘hurt so good’ feeling though. It should never be unbearable to the point where you feel as if you can’t relax, or breathe through it. We always tell our clients that on a scale of 1-10, if the intensity of what we’re doing goes over a 6 or 7, that we will need to back off. Everyone has a different tolerance level, so communication and attentiveness are key during a deep tissue massage
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.”)
Will A Deep Tissue Massage Hurt?
It shouldn’t hurt, but it’s likely to be a bit more uncomfortable than a classic Swedish massage. You should always feel free to speak up if the pressure is too much for you.
It’s important to drink a lot of water after a deep tissue massage to help flush lactic acid out of the tissues. If you don’t, you might be sore the next day.
It’s possible that you might feel some soreness the day after a deep tissue massage even if you DO drink water. This just means a lot of waste products were flushed out of the tissues. It should pass within a day or so.
How Fast Will I Get Results With A Deep Tissue Massage?
It’s important to be realistic about what one deep tissue massage can achieve. Many people ask for more pressure, thinking that if the therapist pushes hard enough, they can eliminate all their knots in an hour. This just won’t happen.
In fact, undoing chronic knots and tension built up over a lifetime is best achieved with an integrated program that includes exercise, work on your posture and way of moving, relaxation techniques and a regular program of massage.
Finally, while deep tissue massage is certainly valuable, you should be aware that gentle styles of massage like craniosacral therapy can also produce profound release and realignment in the body.