Deep Tissue Massage – Is it Worth the Potential Pain?
While massages are generally associated with relaxation, deep tissue massage remains the counterpoint, as therapists throw off the kid’s gloves and work your body like an unmolded slab of dough. Though a small amount of pain or soreness may arise after a session of deep tissue massage, it’s a good way to release tension in the long run.
What is it?
Deep tissue massage is a style of massage that hones in on relieving tension from muscles located under the surface of top muscles, as well as tension from fascia, or connective body tissue. The massage therapist uses a variety of different techniques (which may involve using their elbows, fingers, or in some cases wooden props) to loosen the hard-to-reach muscles and relieve a great amount of tension, ultimately with the goal of realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue.
When adhesions (bands of rigid tissue) form in muscles, tendons, or ligaments, they can be very painful, limiting movement and blocking circulation. Deep tissue massage counters these adhesions through direct deep pressure applied against the grain of the sore muscles in question. Typically, it is defined by its slow strokes, which is to say it is by no means a quick process. In fact, it is recommended that deep tissue massage be administered on a regular basis to correct long term muscle tension and prevent injury.
Who needs it?
Deep tissue massage is generally suited for a specific problem that the patient is having, such as chronic pain, limited mobility, recovery from an injury, osteoarthritis pain, or muscle spasms. It is also great for stiff necks, lower back tightness, and sore shoulders. In fact, a session can comprise of a therapist working solely on one particular problem area.
It’s a fairly intensive procedure, so don’t go thinking you’ll be sipping on wheat-grass smoothies while wearing neat little robes and slippers. This is not to suggest that a patient has to be in physical pain in order to have a deep tissue massage, as it is beneficial to one’s overall health, especially the limberness of their muscles. It’s just easier to justify the intense, sometimes painful massaging when you have an ailment that needs immediate attention. Those who are involved in heavy physical activity, athletes for one, or those that are in consistent pain will find the most to gain from multiple sessions of deep tissue massage.
Although you may experience some discomfort or pain either during or after a deep tissue massage, it is beneficial to your health in the long run. Luckily, any stiffness or soreness that occurs will generally subside in a day or so and then naturally, your body should feel better than ever, considering all the deep-seated tension being released from your core muscles.
In fact, once you’re used to the intensive techniques of deep tissue massage, you’ll most likely find it pleasurable and relaxing. Overall, it’s a very healthy workout for the muscles, as it releases toxins, prevents inflammation, and helps blood and oxygen circulate in more proper fashion.
Aside from the initial pain or discomfort, there are not too many risks to deep tissue massage, unless your skin is equal to the strength of a plastic bag. That being said, this type of massage is not generally recommended for people immediately after surgery, pregnant women, or on anyone with infectious skin diseases, rashes, open wounds, or abdominal hernia. Also, if you are prone to blood clots, you should ask your primary physician before getting a deep tissue massage because there is a risk of blood clots being dislodged during the session.
Lastly, it is not recommended that you eat a large, hearty meal before an appointment (so if your massage therapist’s office is next to an IHOP, think first). It is also generally wise to stay hydrated, especially after the massage to help eliminate toxins from the body.
So if you were thinking about joining a fight club anytime soon, you may want to hold off. Deep tissue massage may be that visceral experience you’ve been searching for. And lucky for you, it’s healthy, it’s legal, and it doesn’t require meeting up with a bunch of guys in a warehouse basement. At least it shouldn’t.