What is Deep Tissue Massage?
The term deep tissue refers to the layering of muscle and connective tissues in the body. The work of deep tissue massage is aimed at releasing chronic tension and restoring function to muscles, joints, and connective tissue by accessing the deepest layers.
There is a common misconception that “deep tissue” equals “deep pressure” and that a deep tissue massage will be painful, and/or more effective. The “no pain, no gain” mentality is neither accurate nor wise when choosing this modality. There may be a little discomfort when receiving a deep tissue massage, but there should be no pain. In any massage, if the techniques being used cause pain, the body will tense up and resist the work too much for it to be effective.
Deep tissue is not usually applied as a full body massage, and uses little to no lotion or oil. Rather, the techniques employed focus on specific areas where chronic patterns are held, adhesions and scar tissue have built up and places where range of motion is limited or compromised.
What to expect during a Deep Tissue Massage Session:
Your massage therapist may use a variety of techniques and a combination of hands, fingers, knuckles, forearms and elbows during a deep tissue session. Some techniques may feel similar to Swedish, or relaxation massage, however the movements are often slower, the pressure deeper and more sustained in order to access the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue.
You may also be asked to breathe deeply during sustained pressure or movements to allow your body to relax and soften into the technique being used.
Movement is often a part of a deep tissue session as well. For example, if targeting the tension in your shoulder, your therapist may lift your arm and ask you to actively participate in assisting with the movement or passively let the movement occur. If movement is involved in your session, your therapist will explain what is going to happen and guide you through each of the movements.
Common techniques that may be used during a deep tissue session:
- trigger point therapy
- myofascial release techniques
- neuromuscular therapy
- active and passive movement
- joint mobilization
Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage:
This modality is often used for injury rehabilitation and pain management and is also sometimes referred to as therapeutic or medical massage. The primary benefit of deep tissue massage is to break up adhesions and scar tissue, or areas where connective tissue has become bound up and thick. Scar tissue is most often created during the healing process following surgery or injury. However, it can also be formed from chronic muscle tension, repetitive motions or overuse. Releasing these bound up areas can have a powerful effect in increasing flexibility and restoring proper joint and muscle function in the body.
Additional positive side effects of deep tissue massage include:
- stress reduction and relaxation
- enhanced immune system response
- better posture
- reduced inflammation
- reduced numbness and tingling
- increased blood flow and circulation
Many of our massage therapists at Heart Spring Health are trained in deep tissue massage and can incorporate this modality into any session, upon request. Our massage therapists serve the Portland-metro and surrounding areas and welcome new clients looking to improve their health and well being.