A type of massage therapy, deep tissue massage uses firm pressure and slow strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles). It’s used for chronic aches and pain and contracted areas such as a stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders.
How Does It Work?
While some of the strokes may feel the same as those used in Swedish massage therapy, deep tissue massage isn’t the same as having a regular massage with deep pressure.
It’s used to break up scar tissue and physically break down muscle “knots” or adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) that can disrupt circulation and cause pain, limited range of motion, and inflammation.
At the beginning of the massage, lighter pressure is generally applied to warm up and prep the muscles. Specific techniques are then applied. The most common techniques include:
Stripping: Deep, gliding pressure along the length of the muscle fibers using the elbow, forearm, knuckles, and thumbs
Friction: Pressure applied across the grain of a muscle to release adhesions and realign tissue fibers