Practicing Deep Tissue Massage

The first thing you may notice in a deep-tissue massage session is much less lubrication is used and is the biggest difference between regular massage and deep-tissue massage. Minimal lubrication requires less pressure to grip tissue.

Deep-tissue massage does, indeed, work with deeper layers of the body by sinking though superficial layers. This does not mean substantially more pressure is needed because the therapist sinks vertically until they sense the layer of tension and then move obliquely to lengthen short muscles and fascia at this layer. Strokes will be considerably slower and possibly shorter as the therapist waits for a slow release of tension, and may move quickly or even skip some areas so more time can be spent on specific areas of need. 

Clients are often actively engaged in the process by moving to positions that stretch muscles and joints to effect a release. A session may not cover the entire body because doing spot work allows for meticulous and careful attention to problem areas rather than spreading the work too thin. However, a deep-tissue massage, whether full body or for spot work, should not attempt to coerce the body into submission. 

Many people feel they get more benefits by scheduling a longer deep-tissue massage of 75 to 90 minutes. This allows for a more relaxed and enjoyable pace and attention to specific areas of holding.

Therapeutic goals 

Both for treatment and prevention of a multitude of soft-tissue problems related to acute or chronic conditions, deep-tissue massage releases adhesions and improves muscle function for better alignment of muscles to help improve joint mobility and proper function. 

  • Improvement of performance in activities. Short and tight muscles limit mobility and cause pain or discomfort. Deep-tissue massage places more emphasis on grabbing and stretching short muscles and fascia that hinder performance instead of sliding over and compressing tissue as a more general massage that uses a lot of lubrication. 
  • Improved posture. This particular facet of deep- tissue massage, sometimes called Myoskeletal Alignment Therapy, focuses on careful analysis and a systematic and structured plan to lengthen short muscles and fascia that adversely affect posture, so people can stand or sit erect and move more freely. 
  • Emotional and psychological freedom. Many people tighten, or armor, their muscles when stressed. Deep-tissue massage helps relieve this stress.

As in all bodywork, the key to a gratifying experience is largely a function of good communication and clarification of objectives.


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