Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage

Deep tissue massage uses more pressure than a Swedish massage. It’s a good option if you have muscle problems, such as:

  • soreness
  • injury
  • imbalance
  • tightness
  • chronic muscle pain

During a deep tissue massage, your massage therapist will use slow strokes and deep finger pressure to relieve tension from the deepest layers of your muscles and connective tissues. You can be naked during this massage or wear your underwear.

The massage will last 60 to 90 minutes.

While deep tissue may be more intense, you shouldn’t feel any pain or soreness.

What happens when you get a deep tissue massage?

There is no standard choreography to a deep tissue massage and all therapists have different styles that should be tailored to the client’s individual needs, says Chris Minehan, LMT, founding owner of Reclaimed Being Therapeutic Massage.

Minehan usually starts with the back because it’s the top region of complaint. He then moves to the legs, shoulders, arms, and finishes with the neck and head — which he says is most relaxing due to the many nerve endings in the scalp.

Montia starts deep tissue sessions gently, covering a broad area and then focusing on specific muscles or regions. People have different pain thresholds, and deep tissue massage may cause discomfort or even be a bit painful. That’s why Minehan says clients should control the depth and pressure of the massage.

“If you’re not able to maintain your breathing and have to tense up parts of your body to tolerate the pain, be sure to speak up and let the therapist know that it’s too much,” says Minehan.

While some discomfort is normal, it’s not required. “If the techniques are too gentle, the work may not be effective at breaking up muscle knots,” says Montia. However, too much pressure or extreme discomfort negates the benefits.

That said, feeling some pain or soreness that lasts a few days after a deep tissue massage is normal. Deep muscle stripping and myofascial release (MFR) can create some bruising or achiness, but joint stretches performed during a deep tissue session shouldn’t cause pain in the days following, says Montia.

Deep tissue massage session lengths vary but typically range from 60 to 120 minutes. Minehan says 90 minutes is usually an ideal amount of time to fully address the chief complaint and thoroughly “touch base” on the rest of the body.

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