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Deep tissue massage targets the connective tissue, i.e. the myofascial layers within the muscle structure. It focuses on the release of muscle tension and chronic adhesions, referred to as “knots” in the muscles.
The massage therapist uses slow, deliberate strokes that focus pressure on the muscle layers. The method of therapeutic massage is less rhythmic than other types of massage. Deep tissue massage can be quite therapeutic – alleviating chronic patterns of tension and helping with muscle injuries, such as back strain.
Deep tissue massage helps to break up and eliminate scar tissue from prior injuries. Stressed muscles can block nutrients and oxygen from getting to where they need to go because tight muscles can restrict blood flow. This will cause inflammation that allows toxins to build up in muscle tissue. The inflammation and toxins contribute to pain and stress, which further irritates the neuro-musculature leading to more muscle spasm and tightness – and it then becomes a vicious cycle.
Deep Tissue Massage breaks up and releases the built-up toxins by loosening the muscles. With the toxins released, blood and oxygen can circulate as they should.
It is important to be well hydrated before you go to your massage appointment and especially important that you drink plenty of water after one of these massages to help with the flushing of the toxins released by the massage.
The strokes used in Deep Tissue Massage are similar to those used in a Swedish Massage except more pressure is used and it utilizes cross-grain strokes [i.e. massage strokes that move across the fibers of the muscles as opposed to following along the length of the muscle fibers].
During Swedish massage, usually the therapist will only use their hand and forearm, however with a Deep Tissue Massage, elbows, fingers, and ceramic, wooden, or glass tools may be used for optimal depth penetration into the myofascial layers.
There may be some soreness after a deep tissue massage, however the soreness is temporary. A good way to recover after a session of Deep Tissue Massage is to soak in a warm bath with epsom salts. This is recommended because it will help get more of the toxins out of your body because epsom salts draw the toxins out into the water. Your muscles need some rest after one of these massages, even if you feel no soreness. So do not plan any activities within a day of a Deep Tissue Massage.
One of the most important things to remember to do when getting a Deep Tissue Massage is to breathe deeply during the session, and again while relaxing afterwards. This will promote oxygenation of the muscles and increase the benefits of the session.
While many massages are designed to provide pleasure and relaxation to the client, there are some massages that focus on providing superior health benefits. Deep tissue massage is one of these, and its benefits are known to greatly improve the condition of many different body parts. A true deep tissue massage occurs when a massage therapist applies firm pressure to the muscles using hands, fingertips, knuckles, elbows and even forearms, stimulating muscles and body tissues deeper than the superficial layers.
Increased Blood Flow - One of the greater benefits of a deep tissue massage is the increased blood flow it stimulates. Since the massage therapist applies so much direct pressure on the muscles, this increases the blood circulation throughout your body. Consequently the increased blood flow boosts the oxygenation of other tissues throughout the body. With more oxygen circulating in the bloodstream, toxins such as lactic acid are cleared from muscles at a higher rate. Athletes can especially benefit from a deep tissue massage since the speedy removal of toxins can help speed up the healing process of distressed muscles.
Stress Relief - The forceful and firm pressure forces the body to relax and ultimately relieve tension. Not only do deep tissue massages help rid the muscles of toxins thanks to the increased blood flow, but flushing out toxins also helps to put the body and the mind in a more relaxed state. An experienced massage therapist will concentrate on massaging various trigger points on the body that are known to hold the most stress. A monthly or even bi-monthly deep tissue massage can do wonders to achieve long-term relaxation and a mellower mood.
Reduced Chronic Pain - If you suffer from chronic discomfort due to arthritis, fibromyalgia, or any number of musculo-skeletal ailments, a deep tissue massage can help alleviate the discomfort.
Lowered Blood Pressure - A collateral benefit of relieving stress and tension is a reduction in blood pressure. Deep tissue massage reduces muscle tightness, and as it does so it can have a positive effect on blood pressure. Blood flow is less restricted through the muscles that have been relaxed. Furthermore, stress relief has been proven to promote more serotonin, a hormone that is associated with feelings happiness and contentment.