Relaxation massages are nice, and when you’re having a hectic week it can be a great way to break it up part way through or even end the week. When there is a build up of tension in the muscles, however, the typical soft touch of a relaxation massage may not be enough to work that tension out. This is where deep tissue massage comes in.

How does deep tissue massage work?

The focus of deep tissue massage is to realign muscles and connective tissues. When these tissues come out of balance it creates tension, stiffness, and knots (adhesions). This can limit mobility and flexibility, and can make certain motions painful. Deep tissue massage uses slower strokes that are more concentrated rather than generalized like classic massage techniques.

By breaking down these adhesions, a normal range of motion is restored. The deeper layers of tissue and fascia can’t be reached while the muscles are clenched or tight. The initial phase of the massage relaxes these muscles, which allows direct pressure to go deeper.

The FYIs and benefits of deep tissue massage

Most people report some level of discomfort through the course of a deep tissue massage. When pressure is applied to sore spots it can create some pain, but it’s necessary to alleviate the problem. Let your massage therapist know if the soreness or pain goes outside your comfort zone.

Deep tissue massage can help with:

  • Chronic pain
  • Limited mobility
  • Strains like carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Sports injuries and whiplash
  • Osteoarthritis pain
  • Sciatica
  • Tennis elbow

According to Consumer Reports, 34,000 people ranked deep tissue massage as more effective in relieving pain than prescription medications, chiropractic, and some forms of physical therapy.

Be prepared to ice the affected areas afterward to reduce soreness or tenderness. Drinking water after a massage helps flush the body of toxins, which can also reduce aches and stiffness. Avoid strenuous activity, but stretching can be helpful to keep the tissues limber and reduce soreness.