Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is not simply a Swedish massage with intense pressure applied. While some of the strokes may feel similar, they have a distinctly different purpose. Used to relieve pain from chronic aches in areas such as neck, upper back, lower back, legs and shoulders, deep tissue massage is applied to break up scar tissue, muscle knots and adhesions (bands of rigid, painful tissue).
The way it’s done
When a deep tissue massage session begins, light pressure is applied to warm up the muscles for the more intense work that is to come. Some techniques include:
Stripping: a deep gliding pressure applied along elbow, forearm, knuckles and thumbs
Friction: pressure that is applied across the grain of a muscle in order release adhesions and realign tissue fiber
Therapists work layer by layer, releasing the pain in tension in one layer of tissue and moving onto the next.
It sounds painful. Does it hurt?
It’s not unusual to feel pain or discomfort during a deep tissue massage – especially if you’re attempting to minimize scar tissue or adhesions. But the pain should be at a tolerable level. If it’s uncomfortable, you should always speak up and tell your therapists. They will adjust their technique and pressure to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible. And remember – if your body tenses up in response to pain, it can make it difficult for the massage therapist to reach your deeper muscles.
Who benefits most from deep tissue massage
Deep tissue massage can prove beneficial for those who are struggling with a number of different conditions. They include:
Repetitive Strain Injury (i.e. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
Upper and lower back pain
Recovery from injury
Deep tissue massage isn’t for everyone
It’s important to know that deep tissue massage can be problematic for those with certain conditions. For example, it may not be safe for people with blood clot tendencies, due to the risk that they may become dislodged. As well, people with osteoporosis (brittle bones) should avoid deep tissue massage.
And you should always check with your medical doctor before deep tissue massage if you have had recent surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Pregnant women should also avoid deep tissue massage and instead seek the services of a therapist who is trained in pregnancy massage.