Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage involves applying firm pressure and slow strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles). It's used for variety of ailments including chronic aches and pain, stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, muscle tightness and soreness.
What to Expect
Deep tissue massage techniques are used to break up scar tissue and physically break down muscle "knots" or adhesions (bands of painful, rigid 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. Specific techniques are then applied. Common techniques include:
Stripping: Deep, gliding pressure along the length of the muscle fibers using the elbow, forearm, knuckles, and thumbs.
Friction: Pressure applied along the grain of a muscle to release adhesions and realign tissue fibers.
Cross-fiber: Pressure applied cross the grain of a muscle to release adhesions and realign tissue fibers.
Massage therapist may use fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows, and forearms during a deep tissue massage. You may be asked to breathe deeply as the massage therapist works on tense areas.
After the massage, you may feel some stiffness or soreness, but it should subside within a day or so. Be sure to contact your massage therapist if you have concerns or if you feel pain after having a massage.
Drinking water after the massage helps to remove metabolic waste from the body. This will help to reduce soreness after the massage, improve bodily functions and promote healing.
Does Deep Tissue Massages Hurt?
At certain times during the massage, you may feel some discomfort or even some pain as the massage therapist works on “areas of concern”. Pain isn't necessarily a bad thing. However too much pain is counterproductive. In fact, your body may tense up in response to pain, making it harder for the therapist to reach deeper muscles. You should always tell your massage therapist 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 people with blood clots (e.g. thrombophlebitis or deep vein thrombosis), due to the risk that they may become dislodged. If you have blood clots or are at risk of forming blood clots, it's essential that you consult your doctor first.
If you've had recent surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or have another medical condition, it's wise to check with your doctor before starting massage therapy. Some people with osteoporosis should avoid the deeper pressure of this type of massage.
Massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed or infected skin, skin rashes, unhealed or open wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, fragile bones, or areas of recent fractures. Massage may cause some bruising and rarely, hematoma (a localized collection of blood outside of blood cells).
Benefits of Deep Tissue massage
Reduces Chronic Pain
The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that deep-tissue massage is more effective and affordable for relieving chronic pain than conventional medical remedies. Because deep-tissue massage increases the flow of blood through through the body, it helps reduce the inflammation that causes pain. Deep-tissue massage can also help alleviate muscle tension that is often a side effect of chronic pain by loosening the tight tissue clusters.
Improves Blood Pressure
Deep-tissue massage helps ease stress and tension, which can have a beneficial effect on blood pressure. People who had a deep-tissue massage saw their systolic pressure drop by an average of 10.4 mm Hg and their diastolic pressure drop an average 5.3 mm Hg, according to a study cited by the University of Maryland Medical Center. Deep-tissue massage can help increase the body's production of serotonin, the hormone that promotes happiness and good feelings.
Breaks Up Scar Tissue
Over time, deep-tissue massage therapy can help break up and eventually erase scar tissue in the body. It does this by improving lymphatic circulation and drainage to improve flexibility and range of motion in the affected area. Scar tissue is often associated with ongoing pain and stiffness, so deep-tissue massage can improve these symptoms. Massage therapy is often recommended for people who are recovering from surgery.
Rehabilitates Injured Muscles
Deep-tissue massage can be an effective treatment for injured muscles. Because it facilitates the movement of toxins from the muscles and helps stretch tight or twisted muscle mass, deep-tissue massage can help promote healing. Because massage also helps relax muscles, it can reduce the pain caused by injuries, too. Deep-tissue massage is frequently used to rehabilitate sports injuries.
For those people who suffer from chronic stress, and all of its various, possible side-effects like tension headaches, rigid shoulders and tight muscles; deep tissue massage can be a relief. During a session you can let it all go and give in to the healing. Once renewed and revitalized you'll be able to face your challenges more