What is a deep tissue massage and what are the benefits?

Deep tissue massage can have benefits that are both physical and psychological. The deep tissue massage can help with musculoskeletal issues such as strains or muscular stiffness, as well as relieving stress and promoting relaxation.

It can be used to improve healing by increasing or decreasing inflammation, increasing blood flow to a muscle and reducing swelling. A deep tissue massage can be incredibly relaxing as the body produces dopamine and oxytocin, and reduces the amount of adrenocorticotropin hormone, nitric oxide and beta-endorphin flowing around your body (1)(2). Oxytocin is a hormone associated with the warm fuzzy relaxing sensation after a massage and dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with feeling good.

What are the benefits of a deep tissue massage?

Deep tissue massageThere are many benefits of a deep tissue massage. While other types of massage are a lot lighter and focus more on flow and stimulating the skin, a deep tissue massage really gets deep into the muscles. This added pressure helps stimulate the receptors in the muscles and tendon more than a surface relaxation style massage would give. Some deep tissue massages will also stimulate the pain receptors in the brain, thereby releasing more opioid type neuro compounds, which aid in the relaxation feeling post massage, but may also cause some people to feel “wiped out” post massage.

What to expect during a deep tissue massage

A deep tissue massage will start in a similar fashion to other massages with the therapist starting with light effleurage type strokes. These strokes help to increase blood flow to your skin and muscles, getting your body used to the touch and pressure. This increased blood flow will also prepare the muscles for the added pressure of the massage. If the therapist was to go immediately heavy with the massage, you will find it hard to relax and will end up feeling like you are fighting the therapist. This makes it harder work for the therapist and not very comfortable for yourself. As you feel more and more relaxed and the muscles start to relax, the pressure of the massage will feel lighter and less painful, then the massage therapist will increase their pressure to help you get the maximum benefits of your deep tissue massage. The therapist will occasionally ask you if the pressure is ok. This is not for you to prove how tough you are by taking as much pressure as possible, this is a chance for you to ask the therapist to go lighter or heavier as you require. Remember a deep tissue massage while sometimes intense, needs to be comfortable for you to enjoy it or to get the most out of it.

Remedial massage vs deep tissue massage

Often we are asked what is the difference between a remedial massage and a deep tissue massage and often people will confuse the two. The main difference is that a deep tissue massage is a massage that is defined by the depth or pressure applied during the treatment. A deep tissue massage, as the name implies is where a therapist applies a lot of pressure into the muscles to try to help the muscle to relax, lengthen or release from spasm. Often a therapist doing a deep tissue massage will also use trigger point therapy where they may use their thumbs or elbow to apply additional pressure to specific trigger points.

A remedial massage on the other hand is more of a treatment style, in order to do remedial in Australia you have to have an approved qualification, typically a diploma of remedial massage. This gives assurance that the therapist knows what they are doing, and have passed the appropriate background checks. A remedial massage will often include some deep tissue massage in their sessions, however they will also incorporate additional techniques to help maximise the effect of your massage.

Can a deep tissue massage cause bruising or damage?

While every precaution is taken by a massage therapist during a deep tissue massage, bruising can sometimes be a side effect in some people, especially if you are on blood thinners or are prone to bruising easily. If this is you, please talk to your therapist about this and perhaps start with a massage of lighter pressure, to minimise the risk of bruising.

How to get the most out of a deep tissue massage?

The best way to maximise the effects of a deep tissue massage is to communicate effectively with your therapist. The massage therapist will want to know if you have had a deep tissue massage before and how your body responded to it. They will want to know the sort of pressure you are after, they will also want to know why you would like a deep tissue massage. Are you after a deep tissue massage because you have had a stressful week at work and you find this is a very effective way to help you relax and recover? Or have you been doing a lot of running or weights and your legs are particularly tight, and you feel a deep tissue massage is the best way to help release them.

What other types of massage are effective?

If you are after a deep tissue massage you may also find a sports massage to be effective or perhaps a remedial massage may be best for you. If you are in the Wynnum, Manly Bayside area click here to make an appointment.