Deep Tissue Massage is applied in a systematic way, concentrating on the deeper layers of the body’s soft tissues. It aims to release chronic patterns of tension in the body, through slow strokes and deep pressure on the contracted area(s). Deep tissue massage therapy is therapeutic as well as corrective, and done properly should cause neither excessive pain for the client nor strain for the therapist. Working deeply does not equate with working harder or with more effort, but is the result of specific deep tissue massage techniques combined with knowledge of the different layers of the body’s soft tissues.
What Is Deep Tissue Massage Therapy?
The is a term often used by therapists to indicate that they use strong pressure, and won’t just be stroking oil onto the skin. However deep tissue work is not just about the amount of pressure used; it’s true intention is to work on all the layers of the body’s soft tissues and particularly the structure which covers and encases them – the fascia. Injury, illness or prolonged immobility can cause fascia to become stiff, hardened or stuck to adjacent structures. This in turn causes pain, reduced mobility and impaired function. Portions of a treatment can be uncomfortable at times with the possibility of pain, however, a good massage therapist should always respect your pain tolerance levels, and will work with you to find a level of pressure that is comfortable for you.
Massage techniques for include the use of knuckles, fists, elbows, and forearms. The pace of a deep tissue massage session is usually slower than that of other massage work, to enable the therapist to pick up information from the client’s tissues, assess the best way to address the tension and contractions found, and apply careful and sensitive pressure in order to achieve a comfortable and lasting release.
How Does it Work?
Pain and stiffness in the muscles and joints can be caused by long-term muscle tension, postural imbalance, overuse and injury. All these things can cause muscle fibres to become shortened, tiny pockets of scar tissue to form (fibrosis), and larger areas of scar tissue will get laid down as an injury heals. Shortened muscle fibres also result in reduced blood flow to the area, and inefficient removal of metabolic waste products by the lymphatic system. The net result of this is areas of the soft tissues that become stiff, hardened, and “glued together” in contracted bands – adhesions. Normal movement becomes impossible, and stiffness and pain set in. Deep tissue massage works by gently but firmly working across these bands to separate the tissues again, to lengthen shortened and contracted soft tissue structures, and to encourage efficient circulation to and from the affected area.
Who Benefits From Deep Tissue Massage Therapy?
This type of massage is highly beneficial for people who suffer from consistent muscle pain, especially in the muscles around the neck, lower back and shoulders. This can be caused by work related postural problems, leisure activities such as gardening, sports and exercise related injuries, and can also be the end-result of long-term emotional stress and tension. The benefits of Deep Tissue Massage include:
- release of tension and stiffness from muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and fascia
- pain relief
- pain management
- increased flexibility and suppleness
- breaks down old scar tissue and adhesions
- improved mobility, posture and physical performance
- faster, more efficient recovery from injury and surgery
What to Expect During and After a Session
The technique usually focuses on specific areas. It can be offered in combination with other styles of massage, as a whole-body treatment or concentrated in one area, for example the lower back or shoulders. Your therapist will work with you to find a comfortable level of pressure, and will work with your breathing to help minimize discomfort and get the best possible release from the tissues. When a deep tissue massage is done correctly, the benefits are experienced within the next few days. You may feel rejuvenated, or a bit sore, depending on the particular therapy session. Any stiffness or pain experienced after a deep tissue massage is a completely normal reaction and should subside within 24-72 hours.
It is advisable to rest and relax as much as possible after your deep tissue massage treatment, take a warm bath, and drink lots of water and/or herbal teas in order to help the body eliminate any waste products that have been released from the soft tissues. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol is also to be recommended, for the same reasons.
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