A common misconception is that a deep tissue massage is simply a harder version of a Swedish massage. In reality, the techniques and results are very different. Deep tissue targets the connective tissues of your muscles and therefore is firmer and more penetrative. The aim is less about relaxation and more about the healing effects. While some parts of the massage may feel soothing, the strokes are manipulating the deepest layers of your muscles and physically breaking down hard tissue.
Techniques of the deep tissue massage include firm and long strokes along the muscle fibers paired with direct pressure. Your masseuse can use a combination of hands, elbows, and forearms.
This massage technique may sound more intimidating than a calming Swedish massage, but don’t be dissuaded. These six types of people can benefit greatly from a deep tissue massage.
1. You Have Chronic Pain
A deep tissue massage increases blood flow throughout your body. In doing so, inflammation in the body is reduced and pain relieved. By breaking down rigid tissue in the muscle, a deep tissue massage can also alleviate the muscle tension that occurs with chronic pain. People who suffer from back pain, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, or other ailments causing internal stress on the muscles can experience highly effective results.
2. You Have High Blood Pressure
Deep tissue massage is proven to reduce stress in the body and subsequently lower blood pressure. By targeting the deepest layers of the muscle, this technique can actually directly affect blood flow. Studies have proven positive effects on the systolic, diastolic and mean arterial blood pressure readings in adults. Deep tissue massage also releases hormones such as serotonin that play a significant role in happiness and wellbeing. With less overall stress on the body, high blood pressure drops.
3. You’re An Athlete
Many athletes rely on deep tissue massage for injury recovery and improved performance. Lactate acid is produced during exercise when your body breaks down glucose for energy. Too much lactic acid in the muscles causes soreness and tightness. Deep tissue massage works by promoting lactate clearance and hence delaying soreness and reducing tension. This technique is also used to stretch the muscles, increase flexibility, and reduce pain caused by injuries.
4. You Have Scar Tissue
As muscles are healing, scars can form under the skin. Deep tissue massage is used to break down the scar tissue and aid in the muscle recovery. By stimulating blood flow, deep tissue massage reduces inflammation and allows more oxygen to reach the muscles, aiding in the recovery of scar tissue. Furthermore, the lymphatic circulation and drainage stimulated through the strokes improve flexibility in areas with scar tissue. For this reason, deep tissue massage is often recommended for people recovering from surgery.
5. You’re A High-Stress Individual
Deep tissue massage tackles this problem from several angles. On top of reducing high blood pressure that can be the direct result of stress, this technique is known to produce a hormone called oxytocin. Known as the “love hormone,” oxytocin is used to treat people with anxiety and depression. Studies have also found that this technique reduces the levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone” in the body.
6. Pregnant Women
Many women who choose a natural birthing process will use deep tissue massage to alleviate labor pains. From a psychological perspective, deep tissue massage has the benefit of decreasing anxiety that could poorly affect the fetus. This technique also relieves leg and back pain caused by pregnancy. Since blood flow improves through the massage, pregnant women are at a lower risk of premature delivery. Studies have even found that women who turn to deep tissue massage have on average three hours less of labor.