Deep tissue massage therapy is similar to Swedish massage, but the deeper pressure is beneficial in releasing chronic muscle tension.
The focus is on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia (the protective layer surrounding muscles, bones and joints). Athletes, dancers and people with physically demanding jobs can sustain muscle damage that goes much deeper. This can also be the case for people who have been in accidents or who have physical limitations. Core muscles can tighten into bunches causing chronic pain and discomfort.
A deep tissue massage may help get to the root of the pain and correct it. Deep tissue massage is most frequently recommended for repetitive strain injuries and chronic pain conditions, such as arthritis, back pain and muscle inflammation. Massage may also be suggested as a supplementary treatment to rehabilitate certain types of injuries.
Benefits: Stress and overuse can cause inflammation and the buildup of certain toxins in your muscle tissue.
According to Yellowlees, deep tissue massage promotes the release of these toxins from your body and promotes the delivery of oxygen to your muscles by increasing circulation. Deep tissue massage is also beneficial for alleviating tense, tight muscles due to stress. Numerous studies published showed that deep tissue massage may also be beneficial for reducing blood pressure and heart rate. Additionally, a 2010 meta-analysis in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that massage modalities like deep tissue reduce stress hormone levels and heart rate while boosting mood and relaxation by triggering the release of oxytocin and serotonin.
Considerations: Chronic pain such as neck or lower back tightness is often caused by adhesions – bands of muscle, ligament and tendon tissue that are tight and rigid. These adhesions not only hurt, they can also inhibit circulation, cause inflammation, and limit your range of movement. In a deep tissue massage treatment, these tight, rigid areas are gradually broken down. The massage therapist applies different kinds of pressure – often slower, firmer, more concentrated versions of the strokes used in Swedish massage – to get the tight tissues and muscles to “release”. The therapist works across the grain of the muscles to achieve this affect.
Like any massage, this type of massage should not hurt, as pain is never the goal of a massage treatment. However, some discomfort during the procedure is normal, as the muscles that are being worked on are often stressed and sore to begin with. Unlike many forms of traditional massage, deep tissue massage may cause an initial increase in pain and discomfort. The pain should subside a day or two after your massage, and you should feel an improvement in your symptoms.
If you have certain health conditions or are pregnant, you should consult your doctor before getting a deep tissue massage.
Don’t expect overnight relief of pain. Quite often the chronic pain and muscle damage has built up over time and it may take several sessions begin to heal. Though you will feel some immediate relief, expect to continue the therapy for a while before you decide if it’s helping you or not.