Simply put "Deep Tissue Massage" is aimed at influencing muscles which are deeper under our skin. In many instances this is achieved by pushing harder, or pushing through a top layer of muscle in order to get to a muscle which is one or more layers down.
Generally people request deep tissue massage therapy because they have been dissatisfied with a treatment they have received in the past which they often describe as "too light" and "a bit fluffy".
Interestingly, the depth of a massage is interpreted completely differently by each individual client or patient. Some people will not be able to tolerate excessive pressure due to a number of reasons and other people will cope well with very firm/heavy pressure. Previous life experiences, health conditions, emotional states, anxiety levels, injury history, exercise and activity levels will all have a significant influence on how people perceive the pressure/depth of a massage.
To learn more about how your body responds to pressure and massage, I encourage you to have a look at the article on Getting the most out of your massage.
Most commonly a maintenance style Sports Massage is what people are expecting out of a deep tissue massage.
Talk to your therapist on your initial consultation regarding the pressure of treatment. We want you to communicate with us about what you are feeling as it improves the effectiveness of your massage. You should always feel comfortable to talk to your therapist at any time about what they are doing – after all, it is your body.