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What is deep tissue massage?
A light, superficial massage this is not! As the name suggests, deep tissue massage aims to work right into your knots to release toxins and lactic acid build-up in tired muscles, ligaments and tendons that may feel tense and inflamed.
The technique involves manipulating the body’s deeper layer of muscles and connective tissues by rubbing a body oil with muscle-relaxant properties deep into the muscle layers. As well as their hands and fingertips, the therapist may use their knuckles, forearms and elbows to stretch and knead tougher areas of tissue.
A variant of deep-tissue is the classic sports massage. A sports massage therapist often has specialised training in a variety of techniques, including deep tissue massage, shiatsu, muscle stretching, Triggerpoint (intense static pressure applied to massage points, a technique designed to trigger the body in to healing itself) and Swedish massage, all aimed at preventing and treating, you guessed it, sports injuries and improving athletic performance. These techniques work to remove lactic acid build-up while improving muscle tone and flexibility.
Potential benefits of deep tissue massage
If you suffer from a stiff neck, lower or upper back pain, or tight calves, this massage technique may be the answer. Studies have also shown deep-tissue massage to be very effective for relieving the symptoms of fibromyalgia and RSI (repetitive strain injury). Many people also report that relieving muscular blockages with a firm massage can release emotional tension. If you can have this massage regularly (up to four times a month), it can make a real long-term difference to muscular tension and problems of restricted movement.
Does a deep tissue massage hurt?
This massage technique is certainly not relaxing. You are likely to feel some discomfort during the treatment (and may feel tender for a few days after), but it should not be painful and you must communicate any pain you experience to your therapist.
During all types of massage, your therapist should check with you that the pressure is acceptable. It is even more important with this type of massage, as, to be effective, substantial pressure needs to be applied, but we all have different pain thresholds. Never be afraid to speak up if you are in serious discomfort or, alternatively, if the pressure is too light.