Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is a specific type of therapy that focuses on treating the deeper layers of muscle, joints, and fascia. It’s a common misconception that the term “deep tissue” is synonymous with pressure or firmness of touch. In fact, some deep tissue techniques may not use very hard pressure, e.g. myofascial work. Deep tissue work is very focused and will usually only treat the specific area of the body where the client is experiencing muscular pain or discomfort. It is not a full body treatment. Deep tissue massage sessions can also feel more “active” as the therapist may use certain soft tissue manipulation techniques that require the client to engage in movement. Oils or lotions may or may not be applied, depending on the techniques being used.
Why have a deep tissue massage?
Deep tissue massage is often recommended for anyone seeking treatment for chronic musculoskeletal pain, sore or fatigued muscles (e.g. after intense exercise or from postural misalignment), or for speeding up recovery after an injury or operative procedure. It can be used to penetrate deep into the tissues to separate muscle fibres, remove adhesions or waste deposits that block circulation, and facilitate the body’s return to normal musculoskeletal health. Adhesions and waste deposits prevent oxygen and nutrient-giving blood from efficiently reaching the deeper tissues, which in chronic situations can lead to increased pain, inflammation, or the build up of scar tissue. Deep tissue treatments help facilitate and stimulate the body’s natural processes to restore good circulation and repair its own functional integrity. It can also be used to increase range of movement in a joint. Improved musculoskeletal function helps the body feel more relaxed, which can aid injury recovery, improve sleep, assist with better breathing, and increase a feeling of vitality and movement.
What conditions can deep tissue massage help with?
Deep tissue sessions are appropriate for both athletes and non-athletes. It can help with many different conditions including but not limited to:
- postural misalignments
- post-operative or post-injury recovery
- repetitive strain injuries
- muscle tension
- post-exercise recovery
- osteoarthritic pain
- lower back pain
What can I expect in a session?
Your therapist will begin with a full consultation and discussion about the area of musculoskeletal discomfort that you are seeking treatment for. The rest of your treatment time may be used to work only on one or two specific areas of the body.
Deep tissue work is never a full body treatment. This is to allow the therapist enough time to thoroughly assess specific muscles and tissues, and warm them up in preparation for treatment. Slow, focused pressure is always used to help encourage the body to soften, adjust, and loosen, which subsequently allows the therapist to sink in deeply into the restriction to facilitate release. Working very slowly in this manner helps to achieve the most long-lasting muscular change and effective pain relief.
Your therapist will ask you to communicate regularly during the session. This is to receive your feedback, any additional direction to help pinpoint specific areas of pain, ensure the right amount of pressure is being applied, and monitor changes in the tissue as it is being treated.
Will it be painful?
Deep tissue work should cause the client little pain, since the body is allowed to dictate the pace at which it adjusts to the pressure and the feeling of the muscles fibres opening up. Chronically tense muscle and tissues however can feel irritated and tender while your therapist engages with them to facilitate release. It is important to remain in good communication with your massage therapist to help them monitor changes in your body and to alert them if at any point the soreness or muscular pain goes beyond your comfort level. After the session, you may experience some skin redness, or muscular soreness or stiffness, which should subside within a day or two.
How many sessions will I need?
Your therapist will be able to discuss with you a course of treatments, if appropriate. You may also receive advice on any remedial exercises that you can do at home in between sessions.