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The Truth about Deep Tissue Massage

The Truth about Deep Tissue Massage

One of the most misused and confusing terms in massage therapy is none other than deep tissue massage. Most people think that deep tissue massage happens when a therapist applies firmer-than-average pressure to the muscles. This is unfortunately an overly simplistic explanation that doesn’t paint an accurate picture of what this modality is and what it can accomplish for your body. Let’s clear up some misconceptions about deep tissue massage: what it is, what it isn’t, and the different techniques that therapists use to do it!

What You Think is “Deep Tissue” Massage Most Likely Isn’t

It’s easiest to explain what deep tissue massage is by starting with what it isn’t, since this is what most people have experienced. Deep tissues massage does not consist of long, flowing strokes applied with “deep” pressure. That is really just Swedish massage, applied with deeper pressure. Unfortunately, many massage therapists have been misinformed as to what true deep tissue massage is, and they continue to mislead their clients by saying so.

So What is Deep Tissue Massage Really?

Deep tissue massage is in reality a form of intense penetration that affects the deepest layers of muscle tissue and fascia. If that sounds a bit aggressive, well, it can be. It may feel a bit uncomfortable, since the therapist is using slow, concentrated strokes to a specific area, but pressure should never been forced upon the muscle. Rather, the therapist will apply pressure until the muscle begins to release and the therapist can move along it. It can sometimes take up to 20 minutes just to effectively work a single area.

While a typical Swedish full body massage will allow you to focus on both the entire body as well as a specific problem area in a short amount of time, a true deep tissue massage focuses on chronic muscle pain and knots that the client might be experiencing.

Deep Tissue Massage Techniques

Deep tissue massage techniques can vary depending on the therapist and the extent of the pain that someone is experiencing. One of the most common is trigger point therapy or myofascial release which use fingers, thumbs, and even elbows to administer firm pressure to individual areas of muscle. The therapist will move very slowly until the muscle relaxes and the tension releases. Another technique is called active release, in which the client and therapist work together. The client will flex and release the muscle while the therapist applies pressure to it, making for an incredibly effective deep tissue massage.

Is Deep Tissue for You?

I wouldn’t recommend deep tissue massage for someone who just wants 60 minutes of relaxation. While this massage will release stress and tension from the body, it is best for athletes, injuries, or someone struggling with deep and chronic muscle pain.

If you’re trying to recover from an injury or you have agonizing pain in your muscles that simply won’t go away, then this massage might be the solution. I definitely recommend it to anyone who might be experiencing these issues. Contact me to learn more and to schedule your deep tissue massage session!

You can also ask me more about deep tissue massage at my Open House on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 2-4 pm! Stop by Overland Park studio (10580 Barkley, Suite 455, Overland Park, KS 66212) to check out my new space, ask me questions, and take home plenty of fun freebies! I’ll see you then!

Suzanne Schaper is a Board Certified Massage Therapist serving Lenexa and Overland Park, KS. She loves sharing her knowledge for health and wellness with her customers. "A life free of pain and disease is a more full life." Suzanne enjoys assisting her customers in their pursuit of health and happiness.

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