Ahh… the famous question: “What is the difference between deep tissue massage and just deep pressure?” There seems to be a lot of confusion about this topic so we will attempt to delve into the unclear to hopefully shed some light on the subject- ONCE AND FOR ALL!
Deep Tissue is a very specific massage treatment in which the therapist uses knuckles and elbow’s to “strip out” muscle tissue as far down to the bone as possible. Sound invasive? It is! It is definitely not for everyone. However there are millions of people out there that would never have their treatment any other way. This modality can be helpful to the following people: athletes who are considerably harder on their bodies than the average person, people who are undergoing physical therapy to aid in the breakdown process of scar tissue, (AFTER PROPER HEALING FROM THE INJURY HAS OCCURED), or anyone who has very dense tissue and thus responds better to the work.
Facts get confused when we talk about deep pressure. “Deep pressure” is just what it sounds like: it is any type of massage therapy that is performed with more, or deeper, pressure. For example, I can perform a Swedish massage, (that is primarily used to relax the client) and use a heavier hand to take it from a light touch to a “medium” or “firm” touch. This fits most people but since every client is different and every therapist is different, it’s tough to really measure. Therefore, your therapist should manipulate your tissue and adjust their pressure until it is perfect for you. It is very important to ALWAYS speak up and let your therapist know if you need the pressure to be corrected, (i.e. if you need them to lighten up because it is too deep, or to apply more because it is not deep enough). Most everyone needs more pressure in some areas and less in others. This occurs because muscle tissue that contains Trigger Points is more sensitive to pressure and can be tender to the touch.
What is deep tissue massage?
Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue.
It is especially helpful for chronically tense and contracted areas such as stiff necks, low back tightness, and sore shoulders.
Some of the same strokes are used as classic massage therapy, but the movement is slower and the pressure is deeper and concentrated on areas of tension and pain.
How does deep tissue massage work?
When there is chronic muscle tension or injury, there are usually adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) in muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Adhesions can block circulation and cause pain, limited movement, and inflammation.
Deep tissue massage works by physically breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain and restore normal movement. To do this, the massage therapist often uses direct deep pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles.
Will deep tissue massage hurt?
At certain points during the massage, most people find there is usually some discomfort and pain.
It is important to tell the massage therapist when things hurt and if any soreness or pain you ecperience is outside your comfort range.
There is usually some stiffness or pain after a deep tissue massage, but it should subside within a day or so. The massage therapist may recommend applying ice to the area after the massage.
What conditions is deep tissue massage used for?
Unlike classic massage therapy, which is used for relaxation, deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, such as:
- Chronic pain
- Limited mobility
- Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, falls, sports injury)
- Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Postural problems
- Ostearthritis pain
- Muscle tension or spasm
According to the August 2005 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, 34,000 people ranked deep tissue massage more effective in relieving osteoarthritis pain than physical therapy, exercise, prescription medications, chiropractic, acupuncture, diet, glucosamine and over-the-counter drugs.
Deep tissue massage also received a top ranking for fibromyalgia pain.
People often notice improved range of motion immediately after a deep tissue massage.
What can I expect during my visit?
Massage therapists may use fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows, and forearms during the deep tissue massage.
You may be asked to breathe deeply as the massage therapist works on certain tense areas.
It is important to drink plenty of water as you can after the massage to flush metabolic waste from the tissues.