What is a deep tissue massage?
A deep tissue massage involves applying firm pressure with slow massage strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds muscles). Deep tissue massage is NOT a massage using deep pressure all over. It is a technique used to target a specific area. The goals and techniques of a deep tissue massage and a Swedish massage using deep pressure are quite different.
Deep tissue massage has many benefits:
· Chronic muscle pain and tension
· Rehabilitation of injuries
· Improves postural problems
· Relieves back and neck pain
· Improves limited mobility and range of motion
Deep tissue massage focuses on a specific problem area. Light to medium pressure is applied first to warm up the muscles to prep the tissue, then specific deep tissue techniques are applied. These techniques often include:
· Muscle stripping: This is a deep sustained gliding pressure along the length of the muscle fibers using the elbows, forearms, knuckles or thumbs.
· Muscle friction: Pressure is applied across the grain of the muscle to release adhesions and realign the tissue fibers.
You may be asked to breathe deeply as these tense areas are being worked.
After a deep tissue massage you may have some mild muscle soreness- like that feeling you experience when you worked a muscle that has not been exercised in a while. This mild soreness should subside in a day or two.
Should a deep tissue massage hurt?
At certain times during a deep tissue massage, while an area with “knots” or adhesions are being worked, you may feel some discomfort. Discomfort is described as a “hurts so good” sensation. That kind of feeling that slightly hurts but feels good at the same time, but a massage should never feel painful.
Pain is your bodies way of telling you to stop what you are doing, something is wrong! Your muscles have a natural reflex to resist pain. When a muscle thinks that it is being injured, this reflex is triggered. When too much pressure is applied the muscle will naturally resists the force of the pressure by tightening up further which of course is the opposite of what the massage is trying to achieve.
An effective massage will relax and release these areas of tension. If you feel pain- that “stop what you are doing” feeling past the “hurts so good” sensation, or if you find yourself not breathing or having to remind yourself to breathe through the techniques, the pressure is too much! Please let your massage therapist know so that either the pressure can be adjusted, or the tissue can be warmed up more to help the superficial muscles relax.
Always communicate with your massage therapist during your session. I try my best to adjust pressure by watching your body language and gauge the way you are breathing, as well as paying close attention to the way your muscle tissue is responding- if I see or feel that your muscles are resisting pressure, I always reduce the pressure I am using. If anything I am doing is causing you pain, please let me know. If you are finding that you are holding your breath and your muscles are tightening up, that is counterproductive to what we are trying to achieve.
I generally apply deep tissue techniques in all my massage sessions unless it is contraindicated. If you have concerns about your health or are unsure if a deep tissue massage is right for you, please consult your health care provider. Deep tissue massage contraindications can include:
· Recent surgery
· Chemotherapy or radiation treatments
· If you have blood clots or at risk of forming blood clots
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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See you at your next massage!