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What is a Deep Tissue Massage?

Updated: May 25

Ah, the age-old debate: what qualifies a massage as deep tissue? Does deep tissue translate to deep pressure, or does it mean something else? It's a hotly disputed topic among keyboard warriors and industry elites alike.

Unfortunately, the massage community hasn't established a definitive answer, and many conflicting definitions exist.

Luckily, I have years of education and experience in the subject. I'll share what I believe characterizes a deep tissue massage and answer some commonly asked questions in this post.

Deep Tissue Massage - How I Define It

The pressure is generally more intense than in a relaxation massage, but pressure alone doesn't make a massage deep tissue. A deep tissue massage addresses a problem with focused attention and a specific outcome in mind. It focuses on deeper layers of muscle and is typically used to treat trigger points, injuries, and chronic pain.

What problems can deep tissue massage treat?

Deep tissue massage can effectively treat chronic muscle tension that results in pain throughout the body. Specific conditions and desired outcomes include:

  • Reducing the frequency and intensity of chronic tension headaches.

  • Improving mobility and range of motion in frozen shoulder.

  • Treating sciatica by relaxing muscles that compress the nerve.

  • Helping to manage pain caused by arthritis.

  • Minimizing the symptoms of Fibromyalgia.

Deep tissue massage aids in countless other conditions and injuries because it reduces pain and improves flexibility and range of motion.

Who shouldn't get a deep-tissue massage?

Deep tissue massage may not be suitable for everyone. For example, if you have a bleeding disorder, a low platelet count, or are taking blood thinners, you should most likely receive a more gentle, less focused massage.

Also, if you have a recent injury that's still bruised or inflamed, that area should be avoided.

Does a deep tissue massage hurt?

Deep tissue massage can sometimes be uncomfortable, but the discomfort should be minimal and temporary. My clients often say it "hurts so good." If you experience more intense pain, please let me know immediately. Pain can indicate an injury or inflammation and cause more harm than good.

Some people may experience soreness after a deep tissue massage, but it's usually mild and should resolve within a day or two. It's often described as feeling sensitive to pressure or the same soreness you feel after an intense workout. If you're sore after your massage, please let me know. It could indicate a need for lighter pressure.

How do I book a deep tissue massage?

Because there's so much confusion around the types of massage therapy available, I've found booking appointments based on time is better. Appointments are available in 30, 60, or 90-minute increments and may include a variety of techniques.

Before your first appointment, you'll complete a new client assessment. This assessment lets me know your goals for massage so I can plan the best course of treatment for you. Then, before every session, we'll discuss your progress and make adjustments as needed.

Communication is Key

There are several circumstances in which I'll need to make accommodations for your comfort and safety, so it's essential to be as thorough as possible on your new client assessment.

Most importantly, please tell me if you're uncomfortable or want me to change anything during your massage. Nearly everything can be adjusted in seconds, including the pressure, the temperature in the room, the music, and the angle of the face cradle. A massage should be enjoyable, and I'll do my best to make yours exceptional.

Until Next Time

If you're here reading about deep tissue massage, you're probably looking for relief from your pain. I created a free downloadable cheat sheet to help you become a healthier version of yourself, and those same habits can help you manage your pain. So grab your copy of 5 Easy Steps to Better Health and book your next massage now!

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