Less Pain ~ More Gain when using Deep Tissue Massage Correctly

Deep tissue massage is not just a regular massage with deeper pressure. Deep tissue massage is a treatment that is designed to have a direct effect on helping realign the deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. It can be especially helpful for chronically tense and contracted muscles that over time have created adhesions.

Unlike classic massage therapy, which is used for relaxation, deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, such as:

  • Muscle tension or spasm
  • Chronic pain & postural problems
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, falls, sports injury)
  • Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Osteo-arthritis pain or Fibromyalgia
  • Muscle tension or spasm

Our muscles, when working to optimum capacity, are formed regularly elongated and ‘striated’ tissue. When there is chronic muscle tension or injury, bands of painful muscled tissue can develop called adhesions. Think KNOT! These adhesions can block circulation, impinge nerves, create limited movement and become inflamed. All of which cause pain.

Deep tissue massage works by breaking down these adhesions. Techniques such as direct pressure, and across the fiber frictioning. This helps to ‘unstick’these muscle fibers from one another and helps to restore the flow of blood to the muscle so that it realigns itself to work for you.

Many people say that deep tissue massage hurts. That you need to, like an athlete, feel the pain for it to be effective.  A trained therapist knows differently. A therapist who has the training and experience knows which techniques to use, when and for how long and to look for and work with contra-indications. (there are times when deep tissue massage should not be employed but rather other techniques for healing should be used) He or she will gently open and warm the tissue before employing a deep technique. And that application should be done with in a client’s comfort zone. A simple check in for you is if you are holding your breath, the technique is too deep.

There may be some discomfort during the massage but it should not be painful. It is important unlike in a relaxation massage for there to be continual communication between a client and a therapist. The therapist needs to know if there is any soreness beyond your comfort range during a massage. If a therapist goes too deep and for too long, bruising will occur.  This should never happen if you have a trained therapist and communication going on!

Many will tell you that there is pain after a deep tissue massage but that is should subside within a day or so but I do not believe that this needs to occur. Two things must occur for this to happen:

The first is to have the right therapist working with you who knows when and how much deep tissue to use and can employ other ‘assistive’ techniques ~such as acupressure, reflexology and myofascial release ~ to augment the deep tissue work.

The second is that some self care needs to be done at home. Under the guidance of your therapist (or other healers she can refer you to), the client can use ice therapy, light stretching, herbal compresses and essential oils (aromatherapy) to make sure that there is no discomfort after a treatment. A client should not have any stiffness but rather should be able to feel less pain than before and move through their normal routines with great ease and comfort.

What have been your experiences with Deep Tissue Massage? Have you been able to communicate with your therapist during the treatment? And, what self-care have you done afterward?


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