What is Deep Tissue Massage?

When muscles are tense and painful, many people turn to massage for relief. However, there are many types of massage available including Swedish, sports, and deep tissue massage. What type of massage is best for chronic pain, muscle tension, and more?

The short answer is deep tissue massage, which is quite different than Swedish massage. Swedish massage is meant to get you relaxed and reduce the tension in muscles caused by everyday activities.

Sports massage is designed to work with muscles used for particular sports and help athletes who are in training. This type of massage can be used before, during or after participating in sports. Sports massage can be helpful to prevent injuries or treat injuries after they occur.

Deep tissue massage, on the other hand it  has a much different purpose than either Swedish or sports massage.

What is Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage is used to relieve, soften, and release tension in the muscles. The purpose of this massage technique is to work with newer areas of tension that are smaller. This type of problem is usually caused by day-to-day activities such as sitting too long at the computer, while driving, and more.

On the other hand, sports massage is used to treat injured muscles that are knotted. These areas are larger and older than those treated with deep tissue massage. These older, knotted areas are usually caused by a sports-related injury. Sports massage also uses passive stretching techniques along with massage.

It is possible that in some cases a massage therapist will use deep tissue massage techniques during a sports massage treatment. This means sports massage and deep tissue do have a lot in common including the skills and techniques needed for each one. The difference comes down to the goal of treatment, as well as the type of injury being treated.

What Can I Expect During a Deep Tissue Massage?

When visit the therapist for the first time, you’ll be asked to fill out a short medical history. This provides information on your overall health, medical history and previous injuries, as well as understand your issues. Then the massage therapist will perform an assessment and diagnosis. They will then discuss treatment options with you. Once you have decided on a course of treatment, your therapist will start with the treatment.

Once you’re on the massage table, the therapist starts out with a light pressured massage to warm up the muscles. This works to slowly increase blood flow to the muscles. As the muscles warmup, the therapist slowly applies more pressure to work down into the muscles and release the tension in these areas. The therapist may also choose to apply creams and oils that work to warm and relax the muscles.

Do Deep Tissue and Sports Massage Hurt?

Many people believe that these forms of massage can hurt. However, this is a misconception. Therapists do not want to cause their patients more pain and discomfort. Instead, it’s best to see this as a partnership with your therapist where you work together to tackle pain and tension.

Therapists don’t want to cause pain. So, if you’re experiencing discomfort during the massage, let your therapist know this. If the pressure is too hard, they can adapt and work at a level that’s more comfortable to you. Always speak up to your therapist if you’re feeling more discomfort or pain.

Having said that, it is possible that you may experience some discomfort in the beginning. This is because the muscles are tight and sore. It’s important to understand that this is not Swedish massage, which uses gentle techniques. Deep tissue massage aims to get down into the tissue and so requires more pressure.

What are the Other Misconceptions about Sports & Deep Tissue Massage?

Many patients say they don’t play sports, so sport massage can’t help them. While it is called sports massage, it can work for anyone of any age who has muscles. That’s a statement that would fit most of us.

Another thing is that patients underestimate the relief massage can bring. There’s the mistaken idea that it’s “only massage” and that can’t be very therapeutic. However, these patients are often surprised when they experience very positive results from massage treatment.

One more issue is that patients are not aware of is the effect long-term pain has on their mental wellbeing. Most people adapt to the new “normal” of being in pain and forget what being without pain is like. However, after massage treatment, when pain is relieved, patients can then see a huge release and relief. They can move without restrictions, sleep without pain waking them in the night, and more. All of that takes a lot out of you; however, when you find relief and the pain is lessened or removed, it’s like being a whole new person. Your mental and physical health improve as a result.

What Types of Conditions Can Be Treated with Sports & Deep Tissue Massage?

The most common issues we see are back and neck problems. These come from sitting in front of the computer too much, driving, and more. This all puts strain on the muscles and structures that support the body. Knee and shoulder pain are also common issues.

Tips to get the most out of Deep Tissue Massage

1). Make sure to tell your therapist about any past injuries or health problems. These do make a difference. For instance, if you have osteoporosis, your bones are more prone to fracture. In this instance, pressure used during the treatment will have to be modified to avoid causing an injury. So, let your therapist know about anything that can impact your treatment.

2). Hydrate before your treatment session.

3). Wear appropriate clothing for treatment. Keep in mind that some areas of your skin may need to be exposed. So, wear shorts and comfortable clothes that can be moved for treatment. We also provide towels to cover you. And be sure to be as clean as possible when you arrive.

4). Avoid trying to “help” your therapist. Patients sometimes try to move their muscles as the therapist is working on them. However, it’s best to relax and let the therapist work as they need to.

5). Don’t take pain medication before your appointment. The reason is that it’s important for you to be able to let the therapist know the level of pain or discomfort you feel. And avoid drinking alcohol before you come and avoid this after your massage, too. The best thing is to drink water before and after your massage treatment.

Please give us a call if you’d like more information on these types of massage, or if you’d like to make an appointment with one of our massage therapists. We’re looking forward to helping you find relief from muscle pain and tension!