A lot of science is involved in Deep Tissue Massage. While there is still a lot of research to be done, here is a little primer on the science behind what we do.
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The Science Behind Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is known for healing chronic pain. For thousands of years it has worked by alleviating pain. But scientific research into how and why it works has been neglected until recently.
Because the research has only just started, there is still a lot to learn about the science behind massage, but the information we have so far is fascinating, and confirms what medical massage therapists have been arguing years.
Let's start with some anatomy (don't worry, we'll try not to be too complex). Your back muscles are divided into the following three groups:
- Superficial: The muscles closest to your skin, these are muscles like the Trapezius and Latissimus Dorsi.
- Intermediate: These muscles are between the superficial muscles and the deep muscles. These include the Serratus Posterior Inferior and Serratus Posterior Inferior, which both attach to the ribs. The superior one is located on the top of your back, close to your next and elevates the ribs, the inferior is in your lower back and depresses the ribs.
- Deep: Believe it or not, these are the muscles targeted in Deep Tissue Massage. These muscles are deepest in your body. They are also among the most important, because these muscles attach to your skull and move the vertical cone.
If you have ever wondered why Deep Tissue Massage can be painful, hopefully you have a better understand now of how much work is needed to get past layers and layers of skin and muscles to reach the Deep Fascia.
Fascia, to put it simply, is the connective tissue between the muscle and internal organs. A good massage therapist targets the fascia to achieve two things.
- Ischematic compression
Ischematic compression sounds fancy, but it means to hold pressure on a specific spot so that it softens and releases. This is about finding those knots and loosening them up.
And then there's Friction Massage. Friction Massage is about circulation. By moving your hand along the muscles in a direction which follows your veins (usually), the massage therapist creates a vacuum/suction effect. It takes the blood and biochemicals hanging around there, and guides them out, leaving a vacuum in its place. The brain recognizes the hole, and send pain relieving biochemicals to fill the spot.
You can try this little exercise yourself. Look at your veins on your wrist. Rub them gently, and you may notice they become less visible for a moment. You flushed out what was there, and your body flushed new chemicals in. Even if the issue isn't in the chemicals being flushed out, the increased circulation means that your body will heal damaged cells much faster and increase mitochondria growth.
When understanding how vital your deep tissues are, and how much pain they can bring, it makes sense then that pushing hard to reach those fasciae hidden deep inside your body. The masseuse finds those pressure points, and applies pressure there until the tension is released, and then aids your blood flow so that natural healing speeds up.
If you are feeling chronic pain or experienced an injury on your back, ask your doctor if a deep tissue massage can help, then give us a call! 703-865-7676