I often get the question about what the deep tissue massage is, whether it really hurts and what it really does. Well, deep tissue massage is similar to Swedish massage but focuses on deeper layers of muscles and structures like fascia and ligaments. It does not necessarily mean that the therapist will dig deep into the tissue and the client will scream out in pain.
Deep tissue is a bit more assertive but the therapist will warm up the superficial layers of skin and muscles first. This is essential and will prevent any damage to superficial muscles. Deep tissue is more like a focused treatment on a problematic area and the therapist will apply a bit more pressure using cross grain strokes (strokes that go across the grain of a muscle). The strokes will be slower and you’ll be encouraged to breathe deeply allowing the therapist to address the deeper structures. Some therapists might use ceramic, wooden or glass tools besides fingers and elbow for optimal effect. If some work is performed on a troubled joint, the therapist will pin the tissue and move the joint slightly to lengthen the structure and break the adhesions.
With repetitive motions or poor posture some muscles get tensed up and block the oxygen and nutrients from getting where they are supposed to get. This creates a vicious circle, the tenser the muscles become, the less nutrient they get and as a result residual material builds up causing pain. In terms of what deep tissue massage does, it breaks up this pain circle along with the scar tissue from previous injuries, realigns the tissue and releases the built up toxins from stressed muscles.
Some people experience some soreness the day after a deep tissue massage, but this should feel more like a work out soreness and should go away within a day or two. It is a good idea to be well hydrated and have an Epsom salts bath after a deep tissue massage as it draws the toxins out. Also, avoid any strenuous activities, as your muscles will need some rest.