Though deep tissue massage therapy is very similar to Swedish massage, the firmer pressure is beneficial for chronic muscle tension. The primary focus is with the deeper layers of muscle tissue, the tendons and the fascia (the protective layer that surrounds your muscle tissue, bones and joints). A 2008 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that patient’s blood pressure fell significantly after a hour long deep tissue massage. In addition, in October 2008 the journal Psychooncology found that massage techniques such as deep tissue actually reduce stress hormone (cortisol and prolactin) levels, lower resting heart rate while also boosting mood and a sense of well being by triggering the release of serotonin and oxytocin.
How Does Deep Tissue Massage Therapy Work?
Where there is chronic muscular tension or injury, there are generally adhesions or bands of painful, rigid tissue in the surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These adhesions frequently block circulation and are a major contributor to pain, inflammation and limited. Deep tissue massage therapy works by physically breaking up these adhesions to restore normal movement and to relieve pain. In practice the massage therapist often uses direct firm pressure or friction applied against the natural grain of the muscles.
Will Deep Tissue Massage Therapy Hurt?
At certain points throughout the session, many people find that there is usually some degree of discomfort and pain. It is critical that you tell the massage therapist when anything hurts and if any of the pain or soreness you’re experiencing is outside the range of your comfort. Commonly, there is some stiffness or soreness after deep tissue sessions, thought it should subside over the course of a day or so. The massage therapist might recommend applying ice to the effected area after the massage along with drinking plenty of water.
Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage Therapy
Unlike traditional massage therapy used for relaxation, deep tissue massage therapy usually keys in on a specific problems, like:
- Chronic pain
- Limited mobility
- Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, strains, sprains, falls, sports injury)
- Repetitive strain injuries (e.g. carpal tunnel)
- Postural problems
- Osteoarthritis pain
- Muscle tension or spasms
According to the August 2005 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, 34,000 people ranked deep tissue massage therapy to provide more effective relief for osteoarthritis pain than exercise, physical therapy, prescription medications, acupuncture, chiropractic, acupuncture, glucosamine or over-the-counter medications. Deep tissue massage therapy has also received a top ranking for managing fibromyalgia pain. Patients often noticed improved range of motion shortly after a deep tissue massage.