What Is Deep Tissue Massage Therapy?

Deep tissue massage is a massage technique which involves applying firm pressure and slow strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles). It’s 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 which may also promote faster healing by increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation.

Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage offers both physical and psychological benefits. Unlike other massage techniques that focus on relaxation, deep tissue massage helps to treat muscle pain and improve range of motion. When a client feels stressed out due to demands at work, home or both, deep tissue massage can help ease this stress in a healthy manner. Additionally, deep tissue massage to the posterior calf muscles, along with self-stretching exercises, helps to reduce pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Furthermore, deep tissue massage can be used for other conditions as well, such as fibromyalgia, tennis elbow or low-back pain, potentially providing some much-needed relief.

Scar tissue forms when an area of the body is injured and heals. Although the most common scars are those that result from a visible cut, sometimes they occur deeper in the body, such as when you damage muscles, ligaments or tendons. It is this type of scarring that deep tissue massage can help resolve, making it easier to move and promoting greater range of motion.

Common benefits for deep tissue massage include:

  • Reduce limited mobility
  • Reduce lower back pain
  • Speed up recovery process
  • Fix tennis elbow
  • Reduce upper back and neck pain

What to expect

While some of the strokes may feel the same as those used in Swedish massage therapy, deep tissue massage isn’t a stronger version of a Swedish massage. At the beginning of a deep tissue massage, lighter pressure is generally applied to warm up and prepare the muscles. Specific techniques are then applied.

Common techniques include:

  • Stripping: Deep, gliding pressure along the length of the muscle fibers using the elbow, forearm, knuckles, and thumbs.
  • Friction: Pressure applied across the grain of a muscle to release adhesions and realign tissue fibers.
Massage therapists may use fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows, and forearms during a deep tissue massage. You may be asked to breathe deeply as the massage therapist works on tense areas.

After the massage, you may feel some stiffness or soreness, but it should subside within a day or so. Be sure to contact your massage us if you have concerns or if you feel pain after having a massage. Drinking water after the massage may additionally help to flush the metabolic waste from the tissues.

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