Deep tissue massage uses slow, firm strokes and pressure to ease and release tension deep in your muscles.
What is deep tissue massage?
Deep tissue massage does what it says ‘on the tin’ – it is a massage technique that works on the deeper layers of muscle tissue.
Similar to Swedish massage, deep tissue massage uses slower and firmer strokes and pressure than other treatments – deep finger/ knuckle/ elbow pressure that concentrates on particular areas, and follows or goes across the fibres of muscles and tendons.
Deep tissue massage features in most forms of massage to some degree, including:
Deep tissue massage is a particularly effective massage for people with muscular pain, neck pain, tension headaches/ ear pain.
Here are a few of the less mainstream forms of deep tissue treatments that you might not have come across.
Cupping Available with Helen
Nobly exhibited by Gwyneth Paltrow in a backless dress, this traditional Chinese medicine practice temporarily leaves raised, red cup-shapes on your skin. A cup is placed on your body and a vacuum is created which sucks up your skin. This suction drains excess fluids and toxins from the muscle tissue, and stimulates the nervous system, and brings blood flow to your muscles and skin. This is a deeply effective, yet relaxing treatment.
This treatment is also a key part of the Facial Revitalisation treatment, as it increases blood flow to the neck and face.
Available with Helen
This specialised massage treatment is used to treat chronic muscular tension, working across the fibres of the muscles.
Trigger point therapy
This treatment puts pressure on certain trigger points, temporarily stopping blood flow to a particular part of the body, and then releasing it, flooding that body part with fresh blood. It sounds weird and it feels weird too; you realise how powerful your blood is when it surges back into your arteries and the limb feels suddenly warm and strong. This treatment kick-starts your circulation as it pours and pumps fresh oxygen around your body. This technique is also a feature of Thai massage.
What is a deep tissue massage good for?
Deep tissue massage helps to refresh and relax muscles, increasing the blood flow and therefore the oxygen flow around your body. This gets rid of toxins in very sore and strained muscles, which helps them to strengthen and heal.
Deep tissue massage is often used to treat people who are recovering from accidents, and for sports injuries as it increases blood circulation in muscles that are underused, relieves chronic muscle tension throughout the body, and can also break down scar tissue and “knots” deep in the muscles.
Before you go
The aim of deep tissue massage is not to leave you feeling relaxed and full of bliss; it tends to tackle particular physical, muscular problems. You’re unlikely to be lost in an ocean of private serenity, so you can plan to go back to work, drive, or go out afterwards without feeling you’ll have ruined it for yourself!
Always let your therapist know if you:
- are, or think you might be, pregnant
- have a history of heart or respiratory problems
- have problems with your joints
- have any skin allergies or conditions
- have recently had surgery, or are prone to or recovering from injury
- you have any other medical condition, or are receiving treatment of any kind as this might affect the kind of treatment you can have, or on what areas of your body the therapist can work on.
As with any massage, it’s a good idea to avoid big meals and alcohol beforehand. You should also drink plenty of water before and after the massage.
What to expect from a deep tissue massage
You may have been referred by a doctor or other specialist for a deep tissue massage. Generally speaking, deep tissue massage is recommended for specific problems, so you may know what to expect already. If you have decided to have this massage treatment yourself, you need to make sure that you give the therapist as much information as you can.
The therapist will talk to you about any special problems you have, how an injury or muscle strain has improved or got worse, your lifestyle, exercise routine, work and so on, so they know how best to help you.
The length of a deep-tissue massage session or course will vary depending on what you need. A session is unlikely to last more than an hour, and a course will probably include about six sessions spaced over a few weeks or months, unless you are a professional sportsperson.
It is really important to drink plenty of water to continue to flush out the toxins in the muscles.