If you’re ready to get your muscles unknotted, a deep tissue massage might be just what you need. Forget light and gentle motions, this massage is highly-effective, but not for the faint of heart! In this guide, we explain the basics of the deep tissue massage and look at who can benefit from this robust spa treatment.
What is deep tissue massage?
A light, superficial massage this is not! As the name suggests, deep tissue massage aims to work right into your knots to release toxins and lactic acid build-up in tired muscles, ligaments and tendons that may feel tense and inflamed.
What does a deep tissue massage involve?
A fully-body deep tissue massage is typically 50 to 90 minutes long. You can also book a 30 or 40-minute deep tissue back, neck and shoulders massage.
The technique involves manipulating the body’s deeper layer of muscles and connective tissues by rubbing a body oil with muscle-relaxant properties deep into the muscle layers. As well as their hands and fingertips, the therapist may use their knuckles, forearms and elbows to stretch and knead tougher areas of tissue.
A variant of deep-tissue is the classic sports massage. A sports massage therapist often has specialised training in a variety of techniques, including deep tissue massage, shiatsu, muscle stretching, Triggerpoint (intense static pressure applied to massage points, a technique designed to trigger the body in to healing itself) and Swedish massage, all aimed at preventing and treating, you guessed it, sports injuries and improving athletic performance. These techniques work to remove lactic acid build-up while improving muscle tone and flexibility.
Another variation of this is the Lava Shell massage, using warmed lava shells to massage the back and neck.
Potential benefits of deep tissue massage
If you suffer from a stiff neck, lower or upper back pain, or tight calves, this massage technique may be the answer. Studies have also shown deep-tissue massage to be very effective for relieving the symptoms of fibromyalgia and RSI (repetitive strain injury). Many people also report that relieving muscular blockages with a firm massage can release emotional tension. If you can have this massage regularly (up to four times a month), it can make a real long-term difference to muscular tension and problems of restricted movement.
Does a deep tissue massage hurt?
This massage technique is certainly not relaxing. You are likely to feel some discomfort during the treatment (and may feel tender for a few days after), but it should not be painful and you must communicate any pain you experience to your therapist.
During all types of massage, your therapist should check with you that the pressure is acceptable. It is even more important with this type of massage, as, to be effective, substantial pressure needs to be applied, but we all have different pain thresholds. Never be afraid to speak up if you are in serious discomfort or, alternatively, if the pressure is too light.
Lasting, cumulative muscular benefits, particularly for those with bad postural habits.
Those with a high pain threshold.
Working on muscles that have been under-used or over-used.
RSI, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritic pain. Always consult your doctor if you’re in any doubt about this massage’s suitability for your condition and let the spa know ahead of time.
…if you prefer soothing light massage pressure. This massage does not aim to relax you, but rather to unravel muscular tension deep down. Not recommended during pregnancy, after an injury or following surgery.
Did you know?
There are certain handy tips and tricks you can use to decrease the sensation of pain. Useful to know during a deep tissue massage or a wax! Take a look at our tips and breeeathe section to find out more.
Arrive early and use the spa’s sauna and hydrotherapy areas to further relax the muscles. Loosening them up in this way will improve the circulation and allow the muscles to relax, so the therapist can get even deeper in to your knots to break up the build-up of lactic acid and muscular tension.
Know of a friend or loved one who might benefit from a deep-tissue massage? Check out our spa vouchers page where monetary gift vouchers can be redeemed against treatments at over 500 spas across the UK.