Deep tissue massage is aimed at the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and fascia, also called connective tissue, which is great for relieving chronic muscle pain that's aggravated by traveling. Whether you've just taken a long flight or you've been stuck in a car for weeks, booking a deep tissue massage can help you alleviate chronic muscle soreness so you can get back to enjoying your vacation.
Deep tissue massages use many of the same movements and techniques as Swedish massages, but the pressure will generally be more intense. It is also a more focused type of massage, as the therapist works to release chronic muscle tension or "knots"—also known as "adhesions."
Although some travelers may be wary of getting this type of massage—especially because it can be a little rougher and takes approximately an hour for a full session—the relief to deep knots in your muscles may be worth the extra pressure. Just be sure to consult your doctor if you are prone to blood clots, low blood pressure, or have recently received medical treatment as work on the deep tissue is known to lower blood pressure.
What to Expect at Your First Massage
When you book an appointment at a spa or resort for a deep tissue massage, you should be prepared to be a little more uncomfortable than you would during a classic Swedish massage.
Since deep tissue massage requires intense pressure against adhesions on your muscles and connective tissues, your therapist will be focused on specific areas for longer, but don't be afraid to speak up if the pressure is too much for you. If the pressure is more than you can comfortably take, you might unconsciously tense up, guarding your body against pain, but this makes it harder for the therapist to achieve results.
You are always better off with only getting as much pressure as you can take while still being relaxed, so it's important to build a trusting and communicative relationship with your therapist. Therapists use different techniques, including applying pressure with their elbows, so some might be more uncomfortable than others. You should let your therapist know if there is a technique you don't like.
After a Deep Tissue Massage
It's important to drink a lot of water after a deep tissue massage to help flush lactic acid out of the tissues. If you don't, you might be sore the next day.
It's possible that you might feel some soreness the day after a deep tissue massage even if you do drink water, but this just means a lot of waste products were flushed out of the tissues. You should continue to stay hydrated and keep drinking water, especially if you're traveling and staying active.
You should also book another appointment if you enjoyed your experience and are attempting to treat chronic pain. Integrating a deep tissue massage into your routine is much more effective than one session, especially because the masseuse will become more familiar with your body as you become more familiar with her techniques each time you go.
If you're traveling, you should try to get a good night's sleep between getting a massage and too much strenuous exercise. Whether you're planning to hike at a mountain resort or just want to enjoy a day at the beach, allowing your muscles to relax and fully release the built-up pressure will help keep the soreness at bay throughout your vacation.
Lasting Results Require Multiple Trips
Although studies have shown that getting a deep tissue massage can lower a person's blood pressure after just one trip, it's important to be realistic about what one appointment can achieve. Put simply, you likely won't get rid of your chronic muscle pain altogether in a single trip.
The tension in the body can build up over time, and the longer you've suffered from chronic muscle or deep tissue pain, the longer it will take to undo the soreness and tension.
Applying more pressure in a single session won't magically cure all the knots in your body. An integrated program that includes exercise, work on your posture and ways of moving, relaxation techniques, and a regular routine of getting deep tissue massages are necessary for long-term results.
While deep tissue is certainly valuable, you should be aware that gentle styles of massage like craniosacral therapy can also produce profound release and realignment in the body. If you're unsure of which type of massage therapy is right for you, you can ask your therapist or doctor for recommendations based on your symptoms.