Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage, is our most requested massage. Many ideas tend to come to mind when you hear the term ‘deep tissue massage’. Some people compare it to a Swedish massage, some tend to overestimate the pain involved, and some might be unaware of its many benefits.
What Is a Deep Tissue Massage?
Deep tissue massage is a massage technique that incorporates deep, slow strokes to apply sustained and varying amounts of pressure to target your musculoskeletal system.
This technique was created by Therese Pfrimmer, a physiotherapist from Canada who was initially interested in finding a way to treat her leg paralysis. Pfrimmer soon realized that by varying pressure intensities over deeper muscles and tissues, the paralysis was slowly reversing.
Deep tissue massages are often advised for people who engage in high-intensity physical activities. Hence, a Massage Therapist often has clients coming in with strains, lower back pain, or sports-related injuries.
For people who regularly engage in strenuous physical exercise, such as running, swimming, and jogging, a deep tissue massage is advised bi-weekly to reduce strain and knots in muscles. Sessions usually last from 60 minutes to over 90 minutes.
What Techniques can be used in a Deep Tissue Massage?
Several techniques can be used to perform a deep tissue massage for massage therapy. The underlying principle of all of those techniques is nevertheless the same — a Massage Therapist will vary sustained amounts of pressure to break up scar tissue and physically break down muscle ‘knots’ or adhesions in your body.
An adhesion is chronic muscle tension or injury in your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Hence, they are bands of pain. A knot is a tension in a localized area of your body. If left untreated, adhesions and knots can disrupt circulation, cause pain and inflammation, and limit motility and flexibility.
Most deep tissue massages focus on major muscle groups such as the neck and lower back — for example, physiotherapy targets ‘stress-bearing’ regions such as your shoulders, neck, and hips.
A massage therapist will start by using light pressure to warm up the muscles. The idea of pressure being used to reduce knots and adhesions is probably why most people compare deep tissue massages to Swedish massages. However, the pressure applied in deep tissue massage therapy is generally of higher intensity.
Despite all this, a deep tissue massage should not feel painful. The massage therapist has to be able to apply just enough pressure to stimulate the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons, and fascia to promote healing and circulation while ensuring the person isn’t in any pain.
For people who are used to Swedish massages, the gradual increase in intensity might feel uncomfortable, which is why it is essential to let the therapist know if the pressure is causing you pain. The initial warm-up can be followed by several techniques, such as stripping, friction, etc.
It is important to understand that if the pressure reaches your threshold for pain or exceeds it, your body will automatically tense up again, rendering the entire treatment useless.
Make sure you work alongside your therapist. Point out when the pressure exceeds your bearing. You need to be able to breathe in deeply into the pressure, and not hold your breath or contract your muscles. Do not fight against the pressure.
Before the Massage Starts:
Before any massage starts, there are certain things you can do to make the entire process more comfortable and fruitful:
A massage stimulates your muscles in the same way any other exercise would. Hence, you might often find yourself feeling dehydrated after a nice, long massage. Water makes your muscles loosen up and easier to manage. A common feature during a stimulating massage such as a deep tissue one is that you will constantly have to go to the toilet.
This is because the massage therapist will stimulate your muscles to release harmful toxins out of them. To get them out of your system for good, you will have to go to the toilet.
Determine Your Pain Threshold:
A deep tissue massage can be painful for people who aren’t familiar with such intense massages. People who schedule massage therapy are required to familiarize themselves with the sort of massage has recommended for them.
In this case, a person needs to be able to understand his or her pain threshold before going in for a massage. Tensing up or flinching from pain during the massage itself will keep your body from releasing toxins — instead, it will create more of them!
A deep tissue massage usually lasts anywhere between 60 minutes to 90 minutes. Physiotherapists advise scheduling deep tissue massages at least twice a week to keep your muscles loose enough to work out pain-free.
Here’s a run-down of everything that happens during the deep tissue massage:
Even though your massage therapist will have conducted a thorough examination to assess your problem areas, he or she will ask you during the massage about which areas feel more tense and taut.
Now, a deep tissue massage can either involve your entire body or specific areas. These areas are predominantly stress-bearing areas that have been strained during physical exercise.
You will be asked to lie down on your back or your stomach under a sheet. Don’t worry — you do not have to completely undress if you’re uncomfortable with it. The goal here is to relax your muscles in any way, which includes alleviating pain before the massage begins.
The therapist will communicate with you throughout the massage, letting you know when he or she will be increasing pressure. A Massage Therapist does this for new-comers who are not familiar with the intensity the pressure can reach.
On your part, you should communicate throughout the massage and let the massage therapist know when the pressure gets too much for you.
Also known as muscle preparation, a warm-up is when a massage therapist gets your body to familiarize itself with his or her actions.
Therapy begins with small, light, and gentle strokes. Following this, the massage therapist will start working on your problem areas with deeper kneading and stroking motions, applying varying amounts of pressure.
This is a technique applied using thumbs, knuckles, forearms, or elbows. During this phase, you’ll feel a gliding pressure along the fibers of your muscles.
Here, the pressure is applied across the grain of your muscles to realign tissue fibers and release any adhesions (areas of rigid tissue) that cause discomfort.
- Slight Discomfort:
It isn’t uncommon for people to feel some level of discomfort during the massage. This discomfort is caused due to muscle tension being broken up, adhesions and knots being opened up, and scar tissue degenerating.
At the end of the massage, you’ll find yourself feeling relaxed and light. When your body gets relief from pain, stiffness, and fatigue, it brings you peace of mind. It increases the level of oxytocin hormones in our brains, which makes us feel happy.
After the Massage:
You will be recommended by your massage therapist to rest for at least 12 hours following a deep tissue massage and before your next workout. People tend to feel sore after their session, so they are advised not to tackle any strenuous exercise after their massage.
A deep tissue massage can burn a lot of calories in your body. It’s similar to any other exercise and is pretty taxing on your muscles.
- Apply Ice:
Applying ice to the areas which received the most profound pressure from your therapist can help with any swelling and discomfort.
- In Case the Pain Does Not Fade:
Soreness and a certain degree of stiffness are expected before the benefits of a deep tissue massage can kick in. However, if the pain does not naturally subside, contact your therapist.
Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage Therapy:
- Health Benefits:
Deep tissue massages have become well-renowned due to the numerous health benefits they offer, such as curing:
- Piriformis Syndrome
- Tennis Elbow
- Sports Injuries
- Plantar Fasciitis
- High Blood Pressure
- Poor Lung Function
- Alleviates Stress:
Massage therapy initially started as a treatment for alleviating stress. Stress can cause, amongst other things, insomnia, pain, discomfort, agitation, and so forth. It has been found that when we feel stressed, our bodies secrete the hormone cortisol.
Massage therapy lowers levels of these stress hormones and promotes stimulation of oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, and similar ‘feel good’ hormones. You will be able to go about your day feeling happier and more relaxed and sleep better at night.
- Improved Weight Loss:
Deep tissue massages have been recommended strongly for overweight people who are looking for an effective way to lose weight. This massage stimulates your muscles, similar to the way exercise does. After a brief period of soreness (lasting no more than 12 hours), you will enjoy more efficient, longer and less painful workouts.
- Improves Posture:
People usually contact us complaining of chronic back pain. However, the underlying cause of this pain is usually bad posture. A deep tissue massage is an important tool for improving posture in a natural, organic way.
Toxins are released from scar tissues and knots with each pressure build-up, after which fresh blood is directed to the site. The flow of fresh oxygenated blood flushes out toxins from your body.
In addition to this, a deep tissue massage helps in clearing lactate build-ups, which are the primary cause of muscle fatigue and muscle soreness. Lactate clearance is a major reason why deep tissue massages are popular with athletes who tend to overexert themselves.
To conclude, deep tissue massages are intense pressure, muscle-stimulating massages that have a plethora of benefits. Call us to schedule your deep tissue massage today.