A deep tissue massage is quite different from a regular massage. With this type of massage, the primary focus is the realignment of deeper layers of muscles than regular massage therapy addresses. Deep tissue massage is used to relieve chronic pain, spasming muscles, neck, shoulder and lower back pain, and tight muscles.

How deep tissue massage brings physical relief

Deep tissue massage is a valuable healing modality for athletes as well as persons suffering from anxiety, arthritis and osteoarthritis, mobility issues, fibromyalgia, sciatic pain, muscle tension and spasms.

While some of the same massage strokes that regular massage therapists use are part of deep tissue massage, they are used more slowly and with deeper pressure. Deep tissue massage focuses on the sublayer of muscles and the fascia (connective tissue) around them. It breaks up adhesions, which are tissue fibers that often develop between muscles, restricting their range of motion and causing pain.

Adhesions can also impair proper circulation that would ordinarily remove waste products from the muscles. These waste products build up and add to the pain of the adhesions, eventually causing inflammation.

Emotional release is a wonderful side benefit of deep tissue work

When we process all our emotions and release them, they flow freely through our bodies and out. But when negative emotions like shame, anger, fear, and sadness become trapped in our bodies, our bodies create tension around them that gets stuck in the deeper muscle layers. This can cause physical pain and a host of illnesses and ailments.

Some areas where the emotions are stored in the body become so tight that a person’s energy flow and craniosacral motion are restricted. The work that deep tissue massage therapists do with the deeper layers of muscle tissues often releases these stored emotions by reducing the tension that surrounds them. When these stored emotions are released in this manner, there is no intellectual processing needed for them to leave the body permanently.

How a deep tissue massage feels

The phrase “it hurts so good” often describes the feeling of a deep tissue massage. This is in part because of the release of painful knots and adhesions, but also because of the endorphins (the feel good hormones) the massage releases that flood the body.

As long as the pain is bearable, it is good to continue the massage, but if the pain is unbearable, it is important to notify the massage therapist immediately. The pain you may feel is part of the release of the adhesions. Any slight discomfort afterward can be addressed by an ice pack.

In the first deep tissue massage, as the muscles are manipulated in ways that cause them to release both adhesions and emotions, most people do not experience an immediate release of endorphins that mitigate the minor pain. By the second deep tissue massage, however, your body has been trained to release the endorphins almost as soon as the massage work begins. This is an incredibly wonderful feeling.

Is deep tissue massage for you? If you can tolerate a little discomfort in order to get your body back in good running order, then the answer has to be Yes.