The term 'Deep Tissue' gets used a lot, but I hear a lot of confusion from clients and friends about what it actually means. Often the term is used to differentiate from a Swedish (or relaxation focused) massage. The truth is, Deep Tissue is a broad umbrella of techniques and each Massage Therapist would probably describe it a little differently- which doesn't make it any clearer! So let's talk about what deep tissue means at Terra Sana:
Since our muscles are layered in our bodies, some are 'deeper' than others. The goal of a Deep Tissue Massage is to address tension in all layers of tissue, as opposed to just interacting with the most superficial layers like in a relaxation-focused massage. Triggerpoint Therapy, Deep Tissue Sculpting, Cupping Massage and Sports Massage are a few common types of Deep Tissue Massage that you have likely seen or heard about- or even experienced for yourself.
While a Deep Tissue Massage may create some intense sensations, it should never actually HURT. The most productive and therapeutic zone is often described as a "hurts so good" feeling which often means you have found the true source of tension. Nerd point: the mechanoreceptors in the muscle that respond to touch and pressure can take a minute or longer to completely signal to the muscle fibers to release- especially if they have been "tight" for a long time. So it is typical in a Deep Tissue Massage to hold pressure on those points of tension and wait until you feel the muscle relax. A common misconception is that you need more pressure to release the 'knot', when usually, you just need a little patience.
As Deep Tissue techniques create changes in the muscle tissue, a natural inflammatory response is often triggered. This brings an increase of blood flow to the area and instigates a healing response that can cause some soreness (like after a good workout). The soreness should not be worse than your original pain and should subside within 24-48 hours, leaving you with decreased pain and an increase in movement and range of motion within the muscle.
The best Deep Tissue Massages are with Massage Therapists who are paying attention to your body's responses, communicating with you during the session and being respectful of how much you are releasing in one session. Just like jumping into a vigorous workout training program, doing too much too fast can cause injury, illness and ultimately set you back. As a client, you know better than anyone when something feels right and productive and when it is just more than you can handle- we promise to respect that and engage you in the process to make sure you leave feeling better than you did when you walked in!
If you have other questions or comments, please leave them below - we'd love to hear from you!