Deep Tissue massage and what it can do for you.
Muscles are arranged on the body in several layers to create movement and stability. Muscles move joints, and every muscle in our body has a specific job (e.g., a bicep contracts to flex an elbow joint). Pain and trouble begin when muscles cannot perform that job correctly. When some muscles become too weak, others have to pick up the slack. Or some muscles become overactive (or hypertonic) and cannot shut off. Those overworked muscles become tight, fatigued, and sore, oftentimes compressing other sensitive structures like nerves and blood vessels. This is where DTM can help. Typically, there is one or a few specific areas in your body where this type of work is needed. You likely do not need DTM on your whole body. Good deep tissue massage is based on an assessment of posture and ranges of motion of any affected joints. Through such assessment, a therapist can figure out which muscle or a group of muscles needs to relax and lengthen, and which needs to be strengthened. This is why DTM is such a great complement to an exercise regiment. As a massage therapist, I cannot strengthen you, but I can help release tightness and break adhesions in the hypertonic muscles. I will talk about fascia and how it comes into play in my next post. For now, let's remember that muscles and fascia are inseparable, hence the term myofascia. The primary goal of DTM is, of course, less about general relaxation and more about promoting change in the muscular skeletal structure. The therapist can use different techniques to access targeted muscles to create change in the area of concern. There are many modalities that can be considered Deep Tissue: Neuromuscular Therapy, Medical Massage, Trigger Point Therapy, Myofascial Release, Rolfing, and some others. All of them teach postural assessment and how to access muscles with more ease and less pain, which brings me to the pain factor. The amount of pressure and intensity should always be adjusted to every client's level of tolerance. You may experience some discomfort during a session, as well as some muscle soreness for a day or two after a massage, but DTM should never cause intense pain.