Deep tissue massage is a massage technique that mainly used to treat musculoskeletal issues, such as strains and sports injuries. It involves applying sustained pressure using slow, deep strokes to target the inner layers of your muscles and connective tissues.
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.
While some of the strokes may feel the same as those used in Swedish massage therapy, deep tissue massage isn’t a stronger version of a Swedish massage. 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.
Stripping: Deep, gliding pressure is applied along the length of the muscle fibers using the elbow, forearm, knuckles, and thumbs.
Friction: Pressure is applied across the grain of a muscle to release adhesions and realign tissue fibers.
Massage therapists 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 may help to flush the metabolic waste from the tissues.
Deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, such as chronic muscle pain, injury rehabilitation, and the following conditions:
• Low back pain
• Limited mobility
• Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, falls)
• Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
• Postural problems
• Muscle tension in the hamstrings, glutes, IT band, legs, quadriceps, rhomboids, upper back
• Osteoarthritis pain
• Piriformis Syndrome
• Tennis Elbow
• Upper back or neck pain