Have you ever gone to make an appointment for a massage, and found yourself a little perplexed at the different options available? Shiatsu? Hot stone? Swedish? What in the world?? We get it. It can be hard to decipher the difference between massage types, and figure out which is the best one for your body. Today we’d like to lift the shadow of confusion from one of our best-loved and most often requested massage options: deep tissue. What exactly is deep tissue massage? Is deep tissue massage the right choice for you?
During a deep tissue massage, the ultimate goal of the massage therapist is not your relaxation, although you will likely still feel that trademark happy, relaxed feeling after. Instead, your massage therapist’s goal will be your ultimate wellness and healing. He or she will be fine-tuned focused on these important elements:
- Your fascia. In case you don’t know, fascia is the membrane of mostly collagen tissue that covers, separates, and encloses your muscles. Healthy fascia is flexible and moves freely. However, when this tissue experiences strains, trauma, or becomes inflamed, it can become rigid and tight, putting extra strain on your body. This presents itself as anything from headaches to muscle pain. During a deep tissue massage, your therapist will work on making sure your fascia is properly smoothed and lengthened, maintaining your body’s fluid flexibility.
- Your scars. No, not the mark on your leg from your brother’s unfortunate archery attempt when you were four, but rather residual scar tissue from surgeries, injuries, or sprains. When a muscle tears, the body repairs it by building scar tissue. Scar tissue isn’t as strong as the regular muscle, making it pretty easy to re-injure that same area. Deep tissue massage will actually remove the scar tissue, strengthening and healing the scarred area.
- Your tension. Chronic tension is often a miserable cycle of stress and pain – your stress leads to tension, which leads to pain in your muscles, which leads to more stress and tension . . . you get the picture. Deep tissue massage tackles the core of your tension-related pain. By releasing the bunched-up muscles in your shoulders, neck, and back, it helps break the pain cycle. With the knots and pain relieved, you might even find that you’re able to face your stressors with renewed energy.
- Your blood pressure. Okay, so obviously your massage therapist is probably not consciously improving your blood pressure level during your massage, but it’s happening anyway. Deep tissue massage has been proven to lower the blood pressure and heart rate of its recipients. In fact, a 2008 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found lower systolic and diastolic pressure readings, and a heart rate around 10 beats less per minute in its 263 participants after just one 45-60 minute massage.