Deep tissue massage had progressed from the general styles and techniques that were used in early massage therapy. In 1949, a Canadian doctor Therese Pfrimmer, created a book on deep massage therapy called “Muscles: Your Invisible Bond”, which showed new techniques and methods. After the book was published, deep tissue massage was used as treatment for injuries and chronic pain in the medical field. To this day deep tissue massage is widely used by physiotherapists, sports therapists, acupuncturists and osteopaths within
Deep tissue massage targets the deepest layers of muscles tissue and fascia. It works well with chronic aches and pains in the neck, lower back, shoulders and neck. The techniques are similar to massage therapy, besides the slower movements and deeper pressure. This works through the deep layer of muscles and connective tissue to break down adhesions. Similar to other scar tissue in the body, it is an effect of the body’s healing process. Poor posture and small injuries can cause adhesions, which then cause restricted movement, reduced local blood circulation and pain. Deep tissue massage helps find and remove adhesions in muscle and fascia, to restore lymph and blood circulation to tissues, lengthen muscles and restore range of motion and stimulate inactive muscle tissue.
3 basic strategies used in Deep Tissue Massage: -
It is common to feel soreness after a deep tissue massage appointment which can last up to 48 hours. It is advised to drink plenty of water following your appointment.
A 22-year-old female presented to us with headaches, neck and shoulder pain which had come on gradually since working from using a dining room table and chair as a workspace. Deep tissue massage was used as a part of a treatment plan to help reduce the muscular tension in the upper back. Physiotherapy treatment was then used to educate the patient on postural techniques and exercise rehabilitation to strengthen the upper back muscles and deep neck flexors. The patient followed a 6-week treatment plan and the pain reduced from a 6/10 to a 2/10, and no headaches were experienced after the 4th session.
A 35-year old male presented to us with medial calf and foot pain whilst training for a 10km Tough Mudder. A sports therapist advised wearing arch support orthotics whilst training and applied deep tissue massage to the calf and the foot to reduce the pain. Following a 3-week treatment plan consisting of two sessions a week, strengthening exercises were prescribed to further treat the cause of the pain and deep tissue massage to maintain the reduction of pain in the medial calf and foot. Concluding the treatment, the patient was able to compete in the event pain free and continued deep tissue massage treatment as maintenance.
Deep tissue massage uses firm pressure and slow strokes to target connective tissues underneath the superficial layer. It provides excellent relief from muscular aches and pains, potentially caused by knots or tightness, by applying mechanical pressure to the points in order to separate and elongate muscle fibres.
In doing so deep tissue massage releases tension in muscles, subsequently improving stiffness, pain and range of motion. Therapists may use their fingers, thumbs, elbow or forearm to deliver the techniques with sufficient pressure to provide the most benefit. Further techniques such as myofascial release and stretching may also be used afterwards to continue to lengthen soft tissues and ultimately promote better muscle recovery, growth and development.
Deep Tissue Massage can help relieve Headaches. Stress and muscular tightness have been found to contribute to the cause of headaches, therefore an effective form of treatment is one promotes relaxation and reduces stress, as well as directly targeting tight muscles with the aim of decreasing the tightness and pressure referring up into the head.
Neck Pain can sometimes be relieved by deep tissue massage. When muscles become tight and over time shorten, they start to restrict range of motion therefore making movement at the neck painful. Deep tissue massage techniques, such as anchor and stretch, can be used to loosen, stretch and lengthen muscle fibres in order to increase range of motion and allow pain free movement.
Shoulder Pain that is caused by dysfunction or damage of muscles or tendons can be improved with deep tissue massage. Techniques like cross fibre frictions are particularly useful to target tendinous insertions around the shoulder, realigning the fibre pattern and improving function and pain.
Repetitive actions requiring persistent movement and strength can strain muscles of the forearm and cause Forearm, Elbow and/or Wrist Pain. From keyboard typing to carrying shopping bags, actions that stress the wrist or elbow joints can overwork the muscles of the arm, causing tension to occur; this can be eased and released effectively with deep tissue massage.
Mid Back Pain can be caused by overuse or injury of soft tissues structures. The thoracic erector spinae muscles are situated in the mid back and can experience overload with long periods of standing and poor posture habits; this causes tension and stiffness within the muscle fibres. Techniques like lengthening strokes used within a deep tissue massage can address these issues and improve pain and function.
Deep tissue massage can target tight achy muscles that are contributing to Lower Back Pain. Using stretching and lengthening techniques, the massage can work into muscle fibres to release knots and tension as well as correcting the fibre alignment pattern, which allows the muscles to function better.
Hip Pain can sometimes be caused by tightness of the gluteal muscles which can compress nerves surrounding the hip, causing referring pain into and around the hip region. With firm pressure targeting the gluteal muscles, deep tissue massage helps to alleviate the nerve compression and reduce pain.
Poor biomechanics and structural issues can result in Knee Pain as certain muscles are forced to work harder to stabilise and support the joint through movement patterns. Deep tissue massage can help to relieve knee pain temporarily by releasing off these tight over stressed muscles, but it can also be used alongside sports therapy or physiotherapy to lengthen muscles and overtime correct biomechanical faults.
Foot and Ankle Pain is sometimes the result of tight calf muscles, mainly the gastrocnemius, pulling on the Achilles tendon which inserts on the back of the heel. To treat this pain, deep tissue massage can be used to target the gastrocnemius and reduce the tension being created at the musculotendinous junction.