Most people have a pretty good idea of what massage is – someone puts their hands on you and uses touch in a focused way to heal, relax you and generally make you feel better. There are many different techniques and traditions. My work, like most in the West, is based on Swedish massage.
What deep tissue massage is
Deep tissue massage (DTM), or remedial massage, is designed to release restricted muscles and joints and reduce pain, rather than just the pure relaxation you expect from a spa massage. There is no clear line between ‘normal’ and remedial massage. The deeper work aims to reduce pain, improve muscle structure and reduce the effect of injury. Forget ‘no pain, no gain – this is not ‘hard’ massage. We gradually work through layers of tissue to reach the restricted areas. Without this the body will resist and it’ll just hurt, without creating the long-term change you need.
A good deep tissue massage starts by softening the more superficial tissue and then ‘leaning in’ to the deeper layers in a variety of ways. These might simply involve slower, deeper massage, using elbows, thumbs or fists; pressing deep into specific points to change the pain response and promote healing; using related techniques such as resisted contraction or stretches, to change the ability of muscles to lengthen.
Unlike MFR (What to Expect – myofascial release therapy), most deep tissue massage uses a small amount of oil to lubricate the surface of the skin to reduce ‘drag’. For this reason, if both deep tissue work and myofascial release are used in a treatment, massage will normally be towards the end of the session and will aim to enhance the earlier work helping it to ‘hold’ for longer after treatment.
DTM can be uncomfortable but most people describe this as a ‘good’ pain, the releasing sensation being very different from the pain caused by the restriction in the first place. As with any treatment, if you feel the discomfort is too much or you’re really not happy with something I’m working on with you, just say so and we’ll adjust the technique, or stop if necessary.