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Deep Tissue Massage Benefits and Contraindications

deep tissue massage being performed on the shoulders and neck

Deep tissue massage is a therapy that focuses on the sore, ailing, and painful deep layers of soft and connective tissues. Its therapeutic benefits have been found to be especially beneficial for chronically tense areas such as stiff necks, sore shoulders, and tight lower backs. The strokes used in deep tissue massage aren’t all that different from other massage therapies, but are generally applied more slowly and with deeper pressure while centering specifically on troubled areas.

Pain and stiffness in muscles, tendons, and ligaments are caused by adhesions embedded deep in the muscles. A lot of times, deep tissue massage is more important than other therapies in releasing such pains because it’s the only way to reach the root of the problem. If they’re left alone, adhesions begin to block circulation, restrict movement, and limit blood flow, which ultimately leads to inflammation and increased pain. By applying firm pressure and friction across the grain of soft tissues, deep tissue attempts to break down adhesions and restore complete mobility and health to soft tissue. The therapist may use a variety of tools such as their fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows, and forearms during a session and clients are frequently asked to take deep breaths in order to help relax and release any superficial tension.

Because of its intensity, deep tissue massage should not be applied under these conditions:

  • Inflamed skin, rashes, or bruises
  • Soon or immediately after surgery or recent fractures
  • Soon or immediately after chemotherapy or radiation treatments, unless recommended by a physician
  • Osteoporosis patients, unless recommended by a physician
  • People who are prone to blood clots
  • Heart disease patients, unless recommended by a cardiologist
  • Pregnancy after the first trimester
  • Hernia

Aside from a small number of contraindications, deep tissue massage works quickly and really well on a wide variety of issues. People often walk into a session under immense pain and come out feeling like they’re floating. But this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, depending on the amount of tension held in the body versus the level of pressure used, soreness may occur after the treatment and could last a day or two. However, the soreness is negligible compared to the pain experienced beforehand.

While most massage therapies are directed at full body relaxation, deep tissue massage focuses on precise areas and is exceptionally good in relieving problems such as:

  • Chronic or acute pain
  • Limited range of motion
  • Injuries caused by whiplash, sports, falls, etc.
  • Repetitive motion strains such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Pains from incorrect posture
  • Osteoarthritis (According to Consumer Reports Magazine, over 30,000 people reported deep tissue massage as being more effective in relieving osteoarthritis pains than physical therapy, exercise, over-the-counter drugs, and other alternative healing treatments)
  • Fibromyalgia (Statistics also show that deep tissue massage is more effective in easing fibromyalgia than any other current remedies)

Deep tissue massage releases toxins stuck in the body. After a session, it is important to drink plenty of water in order to flush out metabolic waste released from the muscle tissues.

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