Understanding Deep Tissue Massage
Elements May 5, 2014
You often don’t think about your muscles until you feel a sharp pain radiate from them or you wake up feeling stiff and sore. Your muscles, though, are active living tissues that need to be cared for and maintained on a routine basis to ensure overall health and wellness.
When the health of your muscles is compromised by physical or mental tension and stress, it can be beneficial to dig deep into the core of the muscular structure to heal and recuperate this living part of your body. The premise of deep tissue massage therapy does just that by getting beyond the surface of tense, sore muscles and focusing on healing the underlying layers that may be causing your pain and discomfort.
“I love the results you can get with deep tissue and the fact that you’re really getting down to the core of the muscle,” shares Matthew Smith, massage therapist at Elements Westford. “I‘ve had clients come back after a session and call me a miracle worker or say that I have magic hands. To me, that’s one of the most rewarding experiences as a deep tissue therapist.”
Peeling Away Tension Keeps the Knots Away
If you work in front of a computer all day, have an active job or engage in regular physical activities, you have more than likely experienced muscle knots, tension and discomfort. As muscle tension piles up in your body from daily wear and tear, you can quickly suffer from physical and mental pain.
Deep tissue massage can help alleviate intense muscle tension and knots by getting down deeper into the muscle to release trapped tension and working the muscles back into a good state of flexibility, elasticity and optimal performance potential.
“We can build up so much tension from all of our daily repetitive movements,” explains Smith. “Once a lot of tension builds up in the muscles, it can become painful and even form knots. Deep tissue is a great tool for helping release this tension build-up and getting your muscles healthy again.”
Going Deep Doesn’t Mean Bringing on the Pain
Deep tissue can get a bad reputation of being a painful type of massage where the therapist digs into your muscles with sharp, pointy elbows while applying an uncomfortable amount of pressure. While this type of massage can be deeper and more intense than other modalities, Smith assures that a good deep tissue massage shouldn’t be painful or leave you feeling really sore.
“People shouldn’t be afraid of deep tissue massage,” says Smith. “You don’t need to get beat up and feel really sore to see results with deep tissue. It’s going to be effective whether you’re sore or not.”
To start getting to the deep level of massage, Smith builds into it slowly by starting his massage strokes with his hands, fingers, thumbs and knuckles before using his forearms and elbows. He believes in the importance of warming up the muscles first and then moving into a deeper level of work that is dependent on each client’s preferred pressure level.
“My philosophy is that it’s not how deep you go that’s important,” reflects Smith. “It’s how you go that’s deep. Jabbing your elbow into someone isn’t always the best approach with deep tissue.”
Benefits Abound for Everyone
From high-stress executives to marathon runners, deep tissue can be beneficial for unwinding and healing tight muscles, as well as diffusing high levels of stress. Active people, in particular, can have a lot of tension in their lower back area, as well as their hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. By using deep tissue massage techniques in the glute area, you can unlock a lot of the pain and tension from the lower back, as well as throughout the legs.
“Runners, in particular, are engaging all of the muscles in their lower body, which can lead to tight leg muscles and glutes as well as tension build-up,” says Smith. “I’ve worked with a lot of people who have trained for the Boston Marathon and it’s great knowing that I’m helping them keep their bodies in tune while they train for their event.”
Deep tissue also is a great approach for doing focus work on the neck and shoulder areas, which are popular places for tension and stress to build up for office workers. Deep tissue can help break up the tension and heal muscle strain associated with sitting at a desk and working long hours in front of a computer.
“I have clients who come in for a massage and you can see the tension and stress radiating from their bodies,” explains Smith. “To see them after a deep tissue massage feeling great and looking like the tension has been sucked out of them is a great experience for them and a rewarding one for me.”
Give your muscles the deep treatment they deserve with a deep tissue massage therapy session. Whether you choose to alternate deep work with a more relaxingSwedish session or you focus on deep tissue to heal a recurring condition, this massage technique can help you feel a new sense of reinvigorating relief both physically and mentally.