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Deep Tissue Massage: What Is It, Benefits, And Everything You Should Know

When it comes to the most popular massage types in the world, deep tissue massage is one that ranks among the top.

In this article, you’re going to learn what hot stones are, how they’re used in massage, and how they can benefit you if you’re thinking about booking a massage. By the end, we hope you have all the knowledge you need to decide whether a hot stone massage is right for you or not. Let’s get started.

What Is A Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage is a massage technique that’s commonly used to treat musculoskeletal problems, this could include both strains and injuries. It involves applying sustained pressure using slow, deep strokes to target the inner layers of your muscles and connective tissues. This can help break up scar tissue that forms from injuries and reduce tension in muscles and tissues.

It may also promote faster healing by increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation.

As you’ll learn below, there’s a number of benefits this massage type can help with.

What Does A Deep Tissue Massage Feel Like?

For any of you that are experiencing pain, soreness, or tight muscles, a deep tissue massage can feel great as it can provide relief from what you’re feeling.

It’s important to know that it isn’t unusual to feel a degree of discomfort during the massage itself. The whole point of this treatment is to break up muscle tension, adhesions and scar tissue that often lie in deeper musculature, so your therapist will likely be applying a good deal of pressure. However, you should let them know if this becomes too uncomfortable. Expect to be asked to breathe deeply when the person treating you is working on especially tense or deep areas of your muscles.

Deep Tissue Massage Benefits And Studies

Deep tissue massage offers both physical and psychological benefits. Unlike other massage techniques that focus on relaxation, deep tissue massage helps to treat muscle pain and improve stiffness. But it can still help to you unwind mentally, too.

2014 study involving 59 participants found that deep tissue massage helped to reduce pain in people with chronic low back. The authors likened its effects to those of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil).

People have also reported that deep tissue massage helps with:

A deep tissue massage may improve circulation, reduce minor aches and pain, increase range of motion, and ease inflammation. One study by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that deep tissue massage helped to lower blood pressure after just one massage session.

One of the most common deep tissue massage therapy benefits is pain reduction. According to a 2014 study in PLOS One, individuals with this condition sometimes experience “beneficial immediate effects” in regard to their levels of pain, oftentimes within just five weeks of massage therapy.

This specific massage can also help with injuries. Scar tissue forms when an area of the body is injured and then heals. While you can have scars on the outside, you can also have them deep inside your body, examples would include damage to muscles, ligaments or tendons.

For these specific types of scarring, this is what deep tissue massage can help resolve, making it easier to move and promoting greater range of motion.

Some studies have shown that deep tissue massage can improve your range of motion.

Just a few years ago, there was a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. This study looked at 27 men who had been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, or AS.

The Spondylitis Association of America explains that AS is a condition characterized by inflammation in the spine, which can eventually lead to a new bone formation in which certain sections of the spine “fuse in a fixed, immobile position.”

In this study, the men were split into two groups.

For this research study, one group received therapeutic massage in an effort to ease lower back pain, improve function, and induce relaxation. The other group engaged in deep tissue massage that would focus on “identify and alleviate musculoskeletal contributors to the participants’ lower back pain.” Both groups participated in a total of 10 massage sessions.

Upon conclusion of the study, participants answered six questions about their fatigue, pain, tenderness, and stiffness via the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI).

For those group members that underwent deep tissue massage, they ended up showing a significantly greater reduction in BASDAI when compared to the therapeutic massage group. They also showed a greater reduction in pain.

Another study was done by Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, they shared that deep tissue massage uses oblique pressure, this is a combination of lengthening and cross-fiber strokes, anchor and stretch, freeing muscle from entrapment. This is different than therapeutic massage, a type of massage that researchers explain uses effleurage, petrissage, tapping and friction.

This same study involved 26 chronic low back pain patients between the ages of 60 and 75 – the study split the 26 participants into two groups – 13 people per group. With this specific study, each person received 30-minute therapeutic massage sessions for a period of 10 days.

The remainder of the participants (13 total) received deep tissue massage for the same timeframe. Participants were assessed based on three different scales, those include;

  • Modified Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability Index (ODI)
  • Visual Analog Scale (VAS)—both before and after the study.
  • Quebec Back Pain Disability Scale (QBPD)

Based on the results, researchers concluded that, when it comes to chronic low back pain, deep tissue massage “was statistically significant better therapy” than therapeutic massage with regard to ODI and VAS.

Studies have also shown that deep tissue massage can be effective for old injuries and rehabilitation. If you’re experincing soreness, aches, and pains, you may want to speak with a massage therapist about working deep tissue massage into your next visit. You can book a deep tissue massage here.

What Happens During Deep Tissue Massage Treatment?

As with most massage therapy sessions, the massage therapist will want to know more about your problem areas the problems you’re experiencing. Make sure you open and honest with them, let them know everything that you feel and what type of result you’re looking to obtain. This will ensure the best possible outcome for you.

Once you’re ready to get your massage, you’ll be asked to lie on your back or stomach, under a sheet. Your level of undress is based on your comfort, but the area being worked on will need to be exposed for the best possible results.

The massage therapist will warm up your muscles using a lighter touch to start. Your deep tissue sessions will be gentle to begin with, it can cover a broad area in the beginning, then starting to focus in on the specific muscles or regions. Everyone has different pain tolerance levels, it’s possible that deep tissue massage may cause discomfort or even be a a little painful. Due to this, you want to make sure you talk to your massage therapist about the pressure being applied. If your massage gets painful, let your therapist know.                   

While some discomfort is normal, it’s not required. If the massage techniques are too gentle, it’s possible that the work being done will not be effective at breaking up muscle knots. On the other hand, too much pressure or extreme discomfort takes away from the benefits the massage provides. Again, this is why you want to remain in contact with your therapist and let them know exactly how you’re feeling.

It is normal to feel some pain or soreness a few days after your deep tissue massage. Don’t be alarmed by that. Deep muscle stripping and myofascial release (MFR) can create some bruising or leave you feeling sore, but joint stretches performed during a deep tissue session shouldn’t cause pain in the days afterward.

Swedish Massage vs Deep Tissue Massage

Two of the most popular massage types are Swedish massage and deep tissue massage, the two are often compared to one another. Due to this, it may be difficult to choose which massage you’d like to get. While many professionals say there’s overlap between Swedish and deep tissue massage techniques, the biggest differences are the depth of pressure being used.

Here’s how Swedish and deep tissue differ.

Swedish massage

  • Appropriate for someone experiencing stress and anxiety
  • Great for someone wanting to relax and unwind
  • Good for someone brand new to professional massage
  • A good choice for someone that has a low tolerance

Deep tissue massage

  • Appropriate for someone experiencing pain
  • Anyone seeking pain relief
  • Good for someone trying to recover from a past injury

You can learn more about Swedish massage therapy by clicking here.

Does Soothe offer deep tissue massage?

Absolutely! Deep tissue massage therapy is one of our most popular offerings. You can easily book a deep tissue massage with Soothe. Book a Soothe massage now to try it out!

Soothe is one of the largest at home massage companies in the world, offering massage services in over 70+ different locations. If you have a question, concern, or need additional help, please feel free to reach out to us here.