There are a huge variety of beneficial massage therapy techniques out there depending on your needs, from those that utilize only the hands to others that use various tools or other items to benefit the patient. One of the single most well-known types of massage, and one that’s useful for a wide range of different clients and needs, is deep tissue massage.
When obtained via a professional massage therapy program, deep tissue massage can be enormously beneficial to those who receive it. What exactly is deep tissue massage, and what are some of the primary ways it benefits patients? Here’s a primer.
Deep Tissue Massage Basics
Deep tissue massage is a somewhat broad category of massage therapy, one that refers to deeper layers of muscle tissue and fascia that will be massaged by the therapist. Therapists may use a few different tools or techniques depending on how the patient’s body responds to touch, including the hands, elbows, and even feet.
Common uses for deep tissue massage include areas like reducing scar tissue, breaking down muscle “knots” patients may be experiencing, and generally increasing the mobility and function of muscles and joints. However, these treatments often have several additional benefits, including each of the following areas.
Many forms of massage work well for stress relief, and deep tissue massage is one of the best examples. It’s known to help lower levels of cortisol in the body, and it may even decrease levels of norepinephrine. This chemical response leads to a more relaxed state.
In addition, deep tissue massage helps with physical symptoms of stress like tight muscles or muscles that are always in a state of tension. It also helps the patient feel more connected to their body, which may develop increased awareness about how they’re feeling in general, too.
Many people who have interest in deep tissue massage are experiencing a fairly specific type of pain – muscular or skeletal pain that originates in a patient’s muscles, bones, or joints. There are a variety of causes for this sort of problem, from injuries to arthritis and other conditions.
In most cases, patients will have the opportunity to discuss the details regarding their own pain before getting started with deep tissue massage, which allows the therapist to pick and choose techniques or tools that will be most effective.
By breaking up scar tissue and other muscular knots, deep tissue massage may also lead to improved movement. The patient will likely experience less stiffness in their muscles, which can help them perform everyday movements with greater ease and comfort.
Decreases Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
In addition, deep tissue massage may lead to a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure. This is particularly true of patients who have chronic conditions that cause them to experience high blood pressure, as well as those with chronic pain or other types of discomfort that can contribute to an elevated heart rate or blood pressure.
Limiting Arthritis Risks
Once again, deep tissue massage is one of a few massage formats that’s shown major benefits in reducing the risk of arthritis. This benefit is thought to come from the fact that deep tissue massage helps joints to work properly and with less pain, which encourages the patient to take part in physical activities they may otherwise be avoiding.
It’s important to note that not all types of massages will deliver these benefits – only those that really go into the deeper layers of muscle. Deep tissue massage isn’t the only such example, but it’s at or near the top of any such list.
Benefits for Labor and Delivery
In some cases, expecting mothers will receive a deep tissue massage from the time they’re around 36 weeks pregnant with their child through the first month of life. This helps to reduce postpartum and post-cesarean recovery times, as well as improving mood and pain levels for many new mothers.
In addition, some therapists will offer prenatal massages that focus on specific areas of the patient’s body – such as the lower back and legs – which can help to release tension.
Consider all these benefits when thinking about which form of massage might be best for you, and why deep tissue massage could be a candidate.