Deep Tissue Massage

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(article by Cathy Wong Apr. 2006 newsletter)

Deep Tissue Massage focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue.  This type of massage is particularly helpful for those with chronically tense and contracted muscles in the upper back, neck, shoulders, and low back areas of the body.

 Many of the same massage strokes are used in deep tissue massage, as are used in relaxation massage. The difference is that deep tissue massage strokes are slower and the pressure applied to the body is more concentrated on areas of tension and pain.

How deep tissue massage works

When a muscle is chronically tense due to an injury, there are usually adhesions in those muscles, tendons and ligaments.  Adhesions are bands rigid tissues that bind to other tissues.  Over time adhesions can restrict movement in the muscle, block blood flow to the muscle and cause a lot of pain.

Deep tissue massage works by physically breaking down the adhesions to relive pain, restoring movement and blood flow to the muscles.  The massage therapist often applies direct deep pressure or friction across the grain of the muscles.

Unlike a relaxation massage, deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, for example:

Chronic pain;

Limited mobility;

Injury recovery (sports injury, car accidents, slip & fall injuries);

Repetitive motion injuries (carpal tunnel or tennis elbow);

Posture problems;

Osteoarthritis pain;


Muscle tension or spasm;

In the August 2005 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, deep tissue was rated more effective for relieving osteoarthritis pain than physical therapy, medication, exercise, or chiropractic treatments.  Deep tissue also received a top rating for those with fibromyalgia pain.

People often notice an immediate improved range of motion after a deep tissue massage.

Will deep tissue massage hurt?

During a deep tissue massage, most people find there is usually some discomfort and pain.  It is very important that you tell your therapist when the pressure being applied is too much or outside your comfort range.

After a deep tissue massage treatment you may feel a little stiff and sore, but within a day or two that should subside.  Using ice on the affected areas and drinking plenty of water should help alleviate any residual soreness from the deep tissue therapy.


Deep tissue massage is not recommended under the following conditions:

Infectious or contagious skin diseases, rash, or open wounds;

Immediately after a surgery;

Immediately after chemotherapy or radiation treatment, unless recommended by your doctor;

Anyone who is currently treating for, or who is prone to blood clots;

             Deep tissue massage should not be done on pregnant women.

             Massage should not be done directly at the site of bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumors, abdominal hernias, or on the site of a recent bone fracture.

Information contained in this publication should not be considered medical advice and is not meant to be substituted for medical treatment.

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