What Is Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep Tissue Massage Targets Chronic Muscle Tension

Man receiving a massage
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Deep tissue massage is aimed at the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and fascia, also called connective tissue. Deep tissue massage uses many of the same movements and techniques as Swedish massage, 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.")

Travelers used to be wary of deep tissue massage, but now the pendulum has shifted.

Swedish massage is seen as something for newbies and wimps. 

Will A Deep Tissue Massage Hurt?

It shouldn't hurt, but it's likely to be a bit more uncomfortable than a classic Swedish massage. You should always feel free 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 from pain.  This makes it harder for the therapist to achieve results.  

You are always better off with less pressure -- only as much pressure as you can take while still being relaxed.  It takes time and experience to know exactly where that point is.  It is often easier to know exactly where that is if you are working with a massage therapist on an ongoing basis.  You get to know what to expect from the therapist, and they get to know your body.  You also build up trust so that it is easier to give feedback. 

Therapists use different techniques, including applying pressure with their elbow.

 Some might be more uncomfortable than others.  You should always feel free to speak up 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.

  But It's possible that you might feel some soreness the day after a deep tissue massage even if you DO drink water. This just means a lot of waste products were flushed out of the tissues.  Keep drinking water.  The soreness should pass within a day or so.

How Fast Will I Get Results With A Deep Tissue Massage?

It's important to be realistic about what one deep tissue massage can achieve. Many people want to get rid of all the tension they've build up in their body over many decades, in just one session.  They ask for more pressure, thinking that if the therapist just pushes hard enough, they can get rid of all their knots in an hour. This just won't happen.

In fact, undoing chronic knots and tension built up over a lifetime is best achieved with an integrated program that includes exercise, work on your posture and ways of moving, relaxation techniques and a regular program of massage.

Finally, 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.