Massage therapy is simply amazing. There are the obvious benefits of released muscle tension and improved relaxation, but there are also different types of massage therapy to help achieve those or other desired results. It would be easy to think one massage is just like another, but this isn’t the case. The type of massage given is based on what you hope to achieve from the therapy session. If you’re an athlete, you’re going to want a sports massage.
If you have a health concern, you may want to focus on reflexology massage. Besides that, there are Thai massage, prenatal massage, cupping, aromatic massage, and many more. Today we are going to take a look at one of the more popular massage therapy techniques: deep tissue massage.
What Is Deep Tissue Massage?
You may be familiar with a relaxation massage, a technique in which the muscles are gently manipulated to induce a relaxed state of both body and mind. Deep tissue massage can help reduce stress, but the focus is on healing.
Surface muscles are not the only ones involved in this type of massage. The massage therapist will also manipulate deeper muscles as well as soft tissues, such as connective tissue and the fascia.
When you experience a lot of stress, the muscles build up tension and have a hard time releasing. Imagine lifting a dumbbell – when you lift, the bicep muscles contracts; when you lower the weight, the muscle releases and stretches out. You can imagine how fatigued your bicep muscle would feel, and how sore it would get if you never lowered the dumbbell.
It is similar with the other muscles in our body and stress. Stress causes muscles to contract, and these muscles can have a difficult time releasing and returning to a relaxed and flexible state. This causes muscle fatigue, reduction of flexibility, and muscle soreness or pain. Stress can be emotional or mental stress, as well as the stress placed on a certain area because of injury.
A massage therapist will focus on the tight, sore, fatigued areas and manipulate the muscles and apply pressure to get the muscles to release their contraction and return to their relaxed state.
Some of the Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage
The benefits of deep tissue massage are numerous. If you’re experiencing chronic tension and pain, you will definitely benefit from deep tissue massage. Once your muscles have reached a certain level of tension, it’s very difficult to release it on your own. You may be able to contribute to a release with stretching and relaxation techniques, but ultimately, having a massage therapist manipulate the muscles and tissues is what’s going to give you the most relief.
A deep tissue massage can help diminish mental stress, anxiety, and ease tension headaches. Bad posture from sitting at a desk all day long can contribute to pain in the head, neck, shoulders, and hips. A deep tissue massage can promote better posture and reduce inflammation. This is great for people who experience chronic back pain.
Flexibility and range of motion are also improved with this technique. If you work out or do any weight bearing exercises, a deep tissue massage will loosen your tight muscles.
Some people have found that deep tissue massage has benefited them more and contributed to reduced pain more than physical therapy, prescribed medications, and exercise.
These are just a handful of the benefits of deep tissue massage. There are many more, and your massage therapist will be able to tell you if deep tissue massage will benefit your particular area of concern.
What to Expect at Your Appointment
One way to release muscle tension is for them to relax. In order to feel relaxed, the massage therapist will make sure the environment in which you have the massage is relaxing to the senses. This helps you to mentally begin the relaxation process before the therapist even begins the massage therapy session.
You can expect to have a brief discussion with the therapist about what your needs are, where you’re having pain or tension, and what will be involved in the massage. The therapist will then leave the room, allowing you to undress and get onto the massage table. Soon the therapist will return and dim the lights so you can feel fully relaxed. Soothing music will begin to play, and then the massage will begin.
The therapist might start off by applying a warm towel to your back. The heat helps the muscles relax and soften. This helps the massage therapist as they won’t have to deal with every muscle being rock hard. In the end, this is helpful to you, too, as not quite as much pressure will need to be applied to some areas, resulting in less soreness.
The massage therapist will apply oil to your skin, so their hands and arms glide easily. They will use a variety of techniques to work the tight muscles – long sweeps of the arm along the longer muscles of the back, and smaller, kneading movements with the fingers and fists along the shoulders and neck.
Deep Tissue Massage Sounds Intense – Will It Hurt?
The short answer – no massage should hurt. However, you may experience some muscle soreness during and after a deep tissue massage. The muscles, and especially the connective tissues, are tight and working the tension out can cause some soreness, but you should not be in pain. Pain is definitely not the goal and will not contribute to the end goal, which is to have a relaxed mind and body. If you experience pain, immediately inform your massage therapist so they can change the pressure or technique.
Deep tissue massage is one of the more commonly applied massage therapy techniques, and as we have seen, it’s for good reason! If you have some extra tight muscles from stress or injury, this massage specialty will do you wonders. Talk to your massage therapist to see if a deep tissue massage is right for you and your needs.