Deep tissue massage, as the term suggests, works deep into the muscles to help relieve tension and help with muscular pain. It’s especially effective on chronic aches and pains, as well as areas of the body which have contracted because of long-term tension in the body, for example shoulders, leg muscles and the back.
Much of a deep tissue massage will be similar to the more popular Swedish massage because therapists must warm up and relax the superficial muscles first. They will then use deep finger, knuckle, forearm or elbow pressure and slow, firm strokes which focus on the deeper muscles, tendons and tissues.
The process of the deeper work may well be uncomfortable or even painful and you can expect the areas worked on to be sore for a couple of days afterwards. Everyone is individual and the pressure will vary throughout and is completely guided by you.
Stress relief. According to the Health & Safety Executive, in 2014/15, nearly half a million people went to their GP because of problems caused by work-related stress, equating to a loss of 9.9 million working days. Deep tissue massage can help ease stress by significantly reducing cortisol levels, lowering the heart rate and blood pressure, and increasing white blood cells that are part of the immune system.
Pain relief. A survey of over 45,000 readers of Consumer Reports magazine found that just over half the people who use deep tissue massage to relieve back pain, neck pain or fibromyalgia reported success. Other readers said it works for depression and headaches. A different study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, showed deep tissue massage for posterior calf muscle pain – alongside stretching exercises – resulted in an overall improvement in the condition. Deep tissue massage has been reported to be effective in relieving pain from fibromyalgia, lower back pain, RSI, sciatica and osteoarthritis.
Ease of movement. Pain can be caused by adhesions which are bands of rigid, sometimes inflamed tissue which have accumulated around points of muscle tension or injury. These adhesions can have an adverse effect on circulation as well as limit movement. A deep tissue massage will help break down these adhesions; once released, normal movement can be restored at the same time as relieving the associated pain and discomfort.
Recovery from mechanical injury. Deep tissue massage helps to improve recovery from injury, muscle soreness, tightness and spasms from physical activity.
Eases depression. Your body produces more oxytocin and serotonin to boost mood and relaxation after a deep tissue massage.