- How does deep tissue therapy work? When there is chronic muscle tension, pain, strain, spasm, injury, or postural problems there are usually adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) in muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Adhesions can block circulation and cause pain, limited movement, and inflammation. Deep tissue massage works by physically breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain, restore normal movement, and improve postural alignment.
- Deep tissue massage is a type of somatic therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. The deep tissue therapist will typically use slower and more targeted strokes during the process. Wait for the melt of tissue using strokes that move in the direction of lengthening,
- Keep in mind that fascia encompasses every muscle, bone, nerve, and organ all the way down to the cellular level. In deep tissue therapy, treat the body as a single piece of human tissue, not as separate or individual components.
- Deep tissue therapy is designed to supplement basic massage skills to work effectively with localized tensions, injury and emotional holding patterns. It helps with chronic muscular pain and injury rehabilitation and reduces inflammation-related pain caused by arthritis and tendonitis. It is generally integrated with other massage techniques.
- Working a specific joint, muscle or muscle group, the deep tissue therapist can learn to access deeper layers of soft tissue. Deep tissue techniques, administered to affect the sub-layer of musculature and fascia, are generally designed for focused, detail-oriented healing work.
- Starting superficially and easing into the depth of the muscle slowly often allows more movement. The muscles must be relaxed in order to effectively perform deep-tissue massage, otherwise tight surface muscles prevent the deep tissue therapist from reaching deeper musculature. If the pressure is applied too deeply or too quickly, the muscle may tighten to protect that area, and unnecessary damage or inflammation can be induced.
- Let the body react and stabilize before moving on. A massage should never consist entirely of deep tissue work. This would be overwhelming to the client and the therapist. Deep tissue techniques are designed to be used when the need arises as indicated during a massage.
- The most commonly used tools during deep tissue therapy include the fingers, knuckles, a flat elbow, soft fist, thumbs, and the forearm.
- Unlike classic Swedish massage therapy, which is frequently designed to elicit a relaxation response, deep tissue therapy usually focuses on a specific problem, such as:
- Chronic pain
- Muscle tension, pain or spasm
- Reducing nerve entrapment and congestion
- Limited mobility
- Recovery from injuries (e.g., whiplash, falls, sports injury)
- Repetitive strain injury (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome)
- Postural problems (improves alignment and vertical posture)
- Osteoarthritis pain
For additional information regarding an online overview of deep tissue therapy classes, visit www.arianainstitute.com/ce-online/
Ariana Vincent directs the Ariana Institute in Houston, Texas, which offers continuing professional development for massage therapists. Ariana is a Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Massage Therapy Instructor who has practiced massage therapy and bodywork for thirty years. Her highest aspiration, personally and professionally, is to facilitate the integration of mind, body, and spirit, and to ultimately allow a state of balance to effortlessly and peacefully become an integral part of everyday life.