A common type of massage that has been used for thousands of years to treat aches, pains, tightness and swelling in the body is deep tissue massage. Using long, slow and firm techniques, a massage therapist can reach the deepest layers of tissue and fascia (the tight sheath that covers your muscles) in problem areas, relieving them of any discomfort and pain.
According to the American massage therapy association, only 32% of Americans have had a massage in the past 5 years. We believe that it’s the lack of information (and misinformation) that prevents people from experiencing the benefits of deep tissue massage for themselves.
If you are suffering from chronic pain or tightness in the neck, back, legs, arms or shoulders, a regular visit to your local massage therapist can transform your life and alleviate much of your pain and anxieties.
Here are 8 things that you probably didn’t know about deep tissue massage:
Massage skeptics will try and persuade you that massage therapy has zero impact on blood circulation or the bodies ability to “detox” itself, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth. The main aim of deep tissue massage is to remove knots and adhesions from the muscle tissue, giving way to better circulation of blood and better drainage of waste products by your lymph system.
Poor circulation can lead to limited range of motion, inflammation (one of the main cause of pain) and constant fatigue. Regular visits to a massage therapist can alleviate or reduce all of these issues when combined with a few key lifestyle changes (daily stretching, cleaner diet, improved posture etc.).
Don’t let misinformed skeptics dissuade you from experiencing the benefits of deep tissue massage therapy for yourself. A couple of sessions is all it takes for you to start feeling the true benefits of improved circulation.
The concept of referred pain is a strange one. Having a massage therapist tell you that the pain in your back is not “real” can be frustrating, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t telling you the truth.
The human body works as an entire unit. All of our limbs are connected and they all have an influence on each other. For example, a patient who has worn ill-fitting shoes all of his life may be suffering from shoulder pain and may believe that their injury is in the shoulders (that makes sense, right?). The truth is, it’s the poorly fitting shoes that are throwing the ankle, knee and hip joints out of whack, causing a referred pain to appear in the shoulders.
The point is, a deep tissue massage can improve pain and flexibility in other parts of the body, not just the area that you believe is the root of your problems.
It’s not what you’d like to hear when going for your first deep-tissue massage, but it’s true. Deep tissue massages are exactly that: Deep. A massage therapist may use their knuckles, forearm, hands, and elbows to slowly and firmly elongate the muscle tissue and fascia, causing a slight discomfort for those who have never experienced a deep tissue massage before.
Muscle “knots” are bundles of fibrous tissue that have been dormant for a while. Releasing the tension in them and softening them up comes with a cost. Don’t worry though, the therapist loves your feedback and will allow you to dictate when to go harder or softer. If a certain technique is too uncomfortable, be sure to tell them.
You may feel some soreness and stiffness for a few hours after the session, but some good food and a good night’s rest will clear that up, leaving you feeling lighter, more flexible and in less pain.
Speaking of a good night’s rest, did you know that regular deep tissue massages can help to ward off insomnia? The combination of its intense relaxation, anti-anxiety, and pain-reducing properties can help insomniacs to fall asleep faster and also deeper. Massage therapy has been shown to increase the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for making you feel relaxed.
Pain is one of the biggest disturbances of sleep, especially chronic pain and muscle cramps. If you find that you are waking up in the middle of the night in agony and you struggle to fall back to sleep, a series of deep tissue massages could drastically improve your slumber. Better sleep improves almost every aspect of life, so fixing the problem at its root cause can be massively beneficial.
It’s also perfectly acceptable to fall asleep during the massage, so feel free to completely let go and relax!
Research shows that almost 50 million Americans are currently suffering from anxiety, with almost 7% of the population being diagnosed with some form of clinical depression. Research gathered by the American massage therapy association also shows that regular deep tissue massage treatments can help to reduce and control symptoms of both of these mental ailments.
Deep tissue massage is not a cure for mental health issues, but merely a tool that can be used to control and reduce the severity of those afflictions. Anxiety controls and shapes the lives of those suffering from it, but the physiological benefits that you can expect from massage therapy will undeniably improve the conditions of your mental health due to the release of neurotransmitters that have been shown to relax the mind, primarily serotonin. Our physiology and psychology are deeply intertwined and live in a constant state of duality with each other.
For more information on massage therapy and mental health, please refer to the American massage therapy association’s website.
That may be a bit of an overstatement, but let us clarify what we mean. An experienced massage therapist will know more about our musculoskeletal system than we ever could. Because of this, don’t be surprised if your therapist starts to reel off your habits like a clairvoyant on the Las Vegas strip.
“You hold your phone in your left hand, you carry your handbag on your right shoulder, you sleep on your left side and you wear high-heels more often than you should do”. The massage therapist knows this because the symptoms of imbalances in your body will show themselves in your muscles, fascia, tendons and other bodily tissues.
The next time you visit a deep tissue massage therapist, don’t be alarmed if they start reeling off your bad habits. Listen to their advice and adopt their recommendations. Eliminating bad postural habits can save you from a lot of pain in the future.
It’s fair to say that pregnancy takes its toll on the body throughout all of its stages, with each trimester bringing its own set of complications. Aches, pains, swelling, and inflammation can crop up in almost every part of your body. The problem is, most women wrongly assume that receiving a massage during pregnancy can cause further issues and somehow hurt the babies health. This couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Professional massage therapists will know which parts of the body are susceptible to aches and pains during pregnancy and they will work with you to make sure you experience less pain and suffering than you should. They will also make sure you are in a comfortable position during the massage and will never conduct certain techniques without your permission.
Deep tissue massage is safe throughout all stages of pregnancy and a regular visit to a therapist can make the whole experience a bit more comfortable.
Active recovery is a big part of being a professional athlete or even just someone who exercises on a regular basis. Deep tissue massage allows nutrients and waste to move around your body more efficiently, offering a quicker rate of recovery from strenuous workouts. Oxygen and nutrients can be delivered to the extremities of the body quickly, and the waste products such as lactic acid can be removed with less resistance and blockages. The massage itself can also be incredibly relaxing, which further aids in recovery from workouts or injury.
Deep tissue massage is also the perfect tool for injury prevention. Long, flexible muscles and highly mobile joints can perform better on the field but with a lower risk of injury. Frequent visits to a deep tissue massage therapist can offer athletes a new burst of life on the field and a drastic improvement in almost every aspect of their everyday lives too.
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