All About Deep Tissue Massage Therapy
It may be similar to Swedish massage, but deep tissue massage therapy differentiates itself by using firm pressure and slow strokes to reach the deeper layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia, the protective layer surrounding the muscles, bones and joints, to release chronic muscle tensions and pains and contracted areas, such as stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness and sore shoulders.
Before applying the deep tissue massage, light pressure is first applied to warm up and prep the muscles using any of the specific massage techniques, as follows: stripping which applies deep, gliding pressure along the length of the muscle fibers with the use of the elbow, forearm, knuckles, and thumbs; friction which applies pressure across the grain of a muscle to release adhesion and re-align muscle fibers. After the application of light pressure, a deep, firm pressure is applied to break up scar tissue and physically break down muscle knots or adhesion that can disrupt circulation and cause pain, which can lead to inflammation or the limiting of the body movements.
At some point, when the deep tissue massage is applied, you will feel discomfort or some pain as the massage therapist works on areas where there are adhesion or scar tissues, using his/her fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows, and forearms; therefore, breathe deeply, during the deep tissue massage, and you should always inform the massage therapist if you feel pain so he/she can adjust his technique, since a sign of pain may mean that your superficial muscles are responding tensely against the pain, making it harder for the massage therapist to reach the deeper muscles. After the massage, you may feel some stiffness or soreness which should subside within a day or so, therefore, drink water to help flush out the metabolic waste from the tissues.
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It has been found in a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine that people’s blood pressure fell after a single 45 to 60 minute deep tissue massage and in the 2010 meta-analysis in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, deep tissue massage reduces stress hormone levels and heart rate while boosting mood and relaxation, which help release oxytocin and serotonin, hormones that give us the feeling of happiness. Low back pain, limited mobility, recovery from whiplash injury, repetitive strain injury, postural problems, muscle tensions, osteoarthritis pain, sciatica, sports issues fro runners and athletes, Piriformis syndrome, tennis elbow, Fibromyalgia, upper back or neck pain – these are where pain release and recovery can take place using deep tissue massage.
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There are, however, certain health issues where deep tissue massage cannot be applied, such as blood clots, recent surgery, bruises or inflamed or infected skin, unhealed wounds, fragile bones, fractures, tumors, abdominal hernia, and pregnant women.