Massage therapy has been a part of many cultures throughout human history, and continues to offer medical benefits today. The practice has evolved in many ways, offering different techniques to better serve patients, and one of those styles is deep tissue. Whether you suffer from chronic pain or are recovering from an injury, here are all of the deep tissue massage benefits you should know before booking your next appointment!
What is a Deep Tissue Massage?
Deep Tissue History
Though the Greeks, Chinese and Egyptians are credited with the creation of massage therapy, it is a physiotherapist in Canada who is known for creating the style of deep tissue massage that is used today. Therese Pfrimmer was looking for a way to help treat her leg paralysis when she discovered that using more pressure helped penetrate deeper muscles and tissue, eventually reversing the paralysis. She then went on to create the Deep Tissue Therapy Clinic in 1949 and publish the book “Muscles… Your Invisible Bonds.”
Deep Tissue Technique
While deep tissue massage uses a similar pattern as a Swedish massage, the practitioner will use more pressure to stimulate the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia. This pressure helps stimulate blood flow, release tension and ultimately, helps the body heal and protect itself against future injuries. (More on this later.)
Despite this, a deep tissue massage should not be painful. While it can be slightly more uncomfortable than a Swedish massage, it’s important to let your practitioner know if the pressure is above your pain threshold. Too much pressure can cause your body to tense up, which makes it harder to achieve results.
Additionally, you and your therapist should work together to soften the outer layer of muscles to access the deeper ones. You should still be able to breathe deeply into the pressure—it’s important to not hold your breath or contract your muscles to tolerate the deep work. A deep tissue massage also allows you to learn about pressure versus pain and your capacity to “handle” both, which translates into your capacity to “handle” life in general.
Now that we’ve discussed what a deep tissue massage is, here are some of the benefits you can look forward to reaping after beginning this type of massage therapy.
Deep Tissue Massage Benefits
1. Reduces pain
The most obvious and immediate benefit of a deep tissue massage is pain relief. As the skin is massaged, it slows the activity of inflammatory cytokines, which contribute to pain and inflammation. Additionally, massage helps increase the proteins that signal the muscles to produce more mitochondria, which helps muscles recover from injury and activity.
2. Optimizes joint mobility/flexibility and muscle length and capacity
With the prominence of desk jobs, muscle injuries are now more prominent than they were 50 years ago. Deep tissue massages can help improve flexibility and range of motion by helping stimulate the body’s natural lubricants.
3. Prevents injury
In addition lubricant stimulation, this type of massage can also help with “lactate clearance, delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS), muscle fatigue…and injury prevention and treatment,” which is why it is so popular with athletes (source).
4. Improves posture
A lesser known deep tissue massage benefit is how great it can be for your posture! Considering poor posture is one of the leading causes of back pain, massage is a great, all-natural way to help improve this important aspect of your life. While lifestyle changes are certainly required for improved posture, deep tissue massages can help reset the body to its natural alignment and relax the sore muscles.
5. Decreases stress and improves mood
High levels of stress cause the body to produce excess cortisol, which can lead to various health problems. Fortunately, deep tissue massage has been proven to lower levels of cortisol and increase levels of serotonin and oxytocin, hormones that are responsible for overall happiness, trust and relationship building. Read more on how massage can help your mental health here.
Whether you’re an athlete recovering from an injury, an employee with back pain or an overworked mom, there are a plethora of deep tissue massage benefits that can help you get back to living a more balanced life. To schedule an appointment with one of our practitioners, call (303) 573-7484!