Deep tissue massage is a massage technique that’s mainly used to treat deeper layers of muscles, fascia and soft tissues. It brings a lot of benefits to the body, including relieving chronic aches and pain and contracted areas such as a stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders. Many athletes rely on this form of treatment to promote recovery as deep tissue massage increases blood flow and reduces inflammation. As the name suggests, a deep tissue massage is “deep” and done using strokes with deep finger pressure.
Deep tissue massages have benefits for both your physical and mental health. Any massage will have numerous benefits for the receiver, making it an easy way to relax and treat your medical issues.
A massage can help lower cortisol levels and increase levels of oxytocin, which is a hormone that relaxes the body and produces soothing effects. It can also help with physical symptoms of stress, such as tight muscles and shoulders and tension headaches. A deep tissue massage can address these issues and help your body relax.
Lowers Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
Deep tissue massage reduces stress and tension, which impacts blood pressure. Massage has positive impacts on systolic, diastolic, and arterial blood pressure. The massage can also increase production of serotonin, which promotes good feelings and happiness.
Rehabilitates Injured Muscles
Deep tissue massage therapy is used frequently to treat sports-related injuries. Many athletes are incorporating deep tissue massage into their recovery protocols, as they can help delay the onset of muscle soreness, help with muscle fatigue, and prevent injuries.
Alleviate Medical Conditions
Research has reported that deep tissue massage is more effective for relieving chronic pain than medication or other medical treatments, and is usually more cost-effective as well. Muscle tension that usually occurs with chronic pain can also be lessened with deep tissue massage, as it can loosen the tight tissue clusters causing pain. These are just some of the conditions that deep tissue massage is effective for:
- Low back pain
- Limited mobility
- Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, falls)
- Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Postural problems
- Osteoarthritis pain
- Piriformis syndrome
- Tennis elbow
- Upper back or neck pain
How the Process Works
Deep tissue massage techniques are used to break up scar tissue and physically break down muscle "knots" (“knots” are muscle adhesions, which are bands of rigid and painful muscle tissue) that can disrupt circulation and cause pain, limited range of motion, and inflammation.
At the beginning of a deep tissue massage, lighter pressure is generally applied to warm up and prepare the muscles. Massage therapists then will use fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows, and forearms during a deep tissue massage, depending on the patient’s tolerance. Generally, the more tense the muscle is, the more discomfort you may feel.
It is normal to feel stiffness or soreness after the massage, but should subside within the next day. It is important to not partake in extreme exercises as your muscles will need time to recover.
Does it Hurt?
At certain times during the massage, you may feel some discomfort or even some pain as the massage therapist works on areas where there are adhesions or scar tissue. You should always let your massage therapist know if you feel pain during the massage. The therapist can adjust the technique or further prep the tissues if the superficial muscles are tense.
Side Effects and Precautions
Deep tissue massage may not be safe for everyone, especially if those have blood clots (e.g. thrombophlebitis of deep vein thrombosis), due to the risk that they may become dislodged.
If you've had recent surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or have another medical condition, it's essential you check with your doctor before starting massage therapy. Some people with osteoporosis should avoid the deeper pressure of this type of massage. Pregnancy may also prohibit you from using massage treatments. You should check with your doctor if you are considering getting a message.
Deep tissue massage may also result in bruising when done wrong. Case reports have reported venous thromboembolism, spinal accessory neuropathy, hepatic hematoma, and posterior interosseous syndrome after deep tissue massage. It is important to make sure your massage therapist has their license in massage therapy, to prevent these injuries.
An alternative to getting deep tissue massage from a registered massage therapist, is to purchase your own deep tissue massage gun! Our deep muscle massager is a personal handheld massage gun that helps you overcome muscle soreness, relieve body fatigue, combat stiffness and spasms. It has multiple different settings and fitted heads to tackle any knots in your body and can be cheaper than going to a massage therapist regularly. If you are interested in purchasing one or learning more, click here!