Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. Most of the rhythm of deep tissue massage is similar to classic massage therapy, but the movement is slower and the pressure is deeper and concentrated on the areas of tension and pain. It is known to be especially helpful for chronically tense and contracted areas such as, stiff necks, low back tightness, and sore shoulders. Deep tissue massages work by physically breaking down adhesions to relieve pain and restore normal movement. Adhesions are bands of rigid tissue in muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Adhesions are capable of blocking circulation and causing pain, limited movement, and inflammation.
Many coaches of athletic teams and personal trainers will suggest deep tissue massage to their clients because benefits not only include physical ease to the problem area, but also positive physiological and psychological effects. Some physical benefits of the massage include:
Pumping: The stroking movements of the massage suck fluid through blood and lymph vessels. This is especially important in tight or damaged muscle tissue, as a tight muscle will squeeze blood out like a sponge, depriving the tissue of vital nutrients and energy repair.
Increased tissue permeability: Deep tissue massage better enables fluids and nutrients to pass through tissue membranes. In turn, this helps remove waste products such as lactic acid and encourages the muscles to take up oxygen and nutrients which help them recover quicker.
Stretching: Massage can stretch tissues that could not be stretched in usual methods. This releases any tension or pressure build up.
Breaks down scar tissue: Scar tissue is the result of previous injuries or trauma and can effect muscles, tendons, and ligaments, thus leading to inflexible tissues that are prone to injury and pain.
Physiological effects of the deep tissue massage include pain reduction and relaxation. Psychological effects can include anxiety reduction, and an invigorating feeling to the client.
Deep tissue massage holds a bundle of benefits for those who expose their muscles to daily, intensive conditioning. It isn’t however, for everyone. Deep tissue massage holds some disadvantages including, mild to moderate discomfort during the massage as tight muscles are worked, and a day or two of soreness following the deep tissue massage, much like the soreness experienced after a rigorous workout. Deep tissue massage is also capable of causing brusing, and in rare cases nerve damage, as well as setting off nerve-related illnesses such as shingles and neuropathies. Another disadvantage of the deep tissue massage that is not physical is simply time. Most deep tissue massages can last anywhere between 60 and 90 minutes, making this a time commitment in itself for very busy people, and if the only time you are able to get a massage is during your business day, you may have to return back to your office feeling somewhat greasy from various oils used during the massage. You also may feel so relaxed that you want to take a nap rather than return to working out or training!
In conclusion, as an athlete or someone who exercises daily, the choice is your own personal one regarding whether or not to get a deep tissue massage. If you are prone to injury or chronic pain in a particular area, the advantages of deep tissue massage probably outweigh the disadvantages, and it is probably in your best interest to schedule one. If you are worried about either becoming bruised or feeling sore after the massage, and feel this will disrupt your training, then you may not want to opt for one. For those who have never gotten deep tissue massages, the best idea would be to go to your first, and weigh the results. If the massage proved to be beneficial, schedule your next. If not, turn to other outlets for injury and chronic pain such as physical therapy or chiropractic treatments. Deep tissue massage is not necessarily fundamental for the workout warrior, but if agreeable with one’s body, is definitely a bonus in total body maintenance.