8 Benefits of a Deep Tissue Massage
Massage is one of the most relaxing therapies available. More than that, it can act as a powerful tool for treating painful conditions and restoring balance within your body. Deep tissue massage is one popular technique used to ease chronic pain and heal injuries. This therapy also has several practical uses that can make life more comfortable. Continue reading to learn eight benefits of a deep tissue massage.
What is a deep tissue massage?
A deep tissue massage is a therapeutic technique that targets the inner layers of muscle and its surrounding connective tissue known as fascia. Using firm pressure and slow, deep strokes, your massage therapist works to break up scar tissue and release muscle adhesions, or knots. These knots are bands of rigid muscles that negatively impact your circulation and cause pain and inflammation.
Deep tissue can relieve the built-up tension from stress, exercise, and prolonged postural problems. It offers a prime solution for those dealing with:
- Chronic pain
- Muscle injuries
- Sports-related injuries
- Fatigued bodies from highly physical activities
This therapy begins with light strokes to warm up the muscles and then progresses to deep pressure along the muscle fibers. Deep tissue uses more pressure than other massages, like Swedish massage. While it can cause discomfort during your session, the pain should not feel unbearable. Be sure to communicate your needs with your Bend massage therapist so that they can adjust the pressure accordingly. In the days after your session, you may experience lingering soreness. This is completely normal. Using a heating pad or cold pack on the affected areas can provide relief.
Benefits of a Deep Tissue Massage
1. Relieves lower back pain
Lower back pain can have a myriad of causes, from normal aging and prolonged sitting to a lack of exercise or, conversely, heavy lifting. This condition can also stem from specific nerves, like the sciatic nerve, or major muscle groups that support this area, such as the quadratus lumborum and gluteus medius. Issues in these areas can make simple tasks like bending over or getting out of your car difficult.
Deep tissue massage releases tissues that may be causing pinched nerves, helping sciatica. These techniques also restore proper function in the areas that support your lower back.
A 2014 study found that deep tissue massage may provide a similar level of relief as common NSAIDs, like ibuprofen. Although massage therapy can be better for your body and more cost-efficient in the long run.
2. Lowers blood pressure
It’s no secret that stress and tension increase your blood pressure—and deep tissue massage addresses both. Deep tissue massage releases endorphins that relax blood vessels, allowing your body to more easily pump blood. These benefits combined with increased blood circulation after your session can all positively impact your readings.
A 2008 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that massage can reduce diastolic, systolic, and mean arterial readings. It can even lower your heart rate by an average of 10 beats per minute.
3. Reduces muscle tension and pain
Tension occurs when your muscles stay in a contracted state and cannot relax. Over time, this tension can cause pain and reduce your range of motion. During a deep tissue massage, your Bend massage therapist will apply firm pressure on these trigger points, causing them to manually relax. This technique can reduce pain and restore movement.
If your discomfort stems from adhesions, or bundles of fibers that have grouped together due to tension, your therapist will break them up to increase flexibility and ease pain.
4. Lowers stress and anxiety
Stress is a normal part of life. When your body senses danger, it begins releasing more cortisol, a stress hormone that triggers your fight or flight. These levels should rise in moderate amounts during the day and level out at night. For people experiencing chronic stress, these cortisol levels remain high, which results in weight gain, sleeping troubles, and more.
Deep tissue massage not only lowers the levels of this stress hormone in your blood. It also counteracts its effects by releasing feel-good hormones, like oxytocin and serotonin. Oxytocin, your body’s “bonding hormone,” promotes positive moods and social interactions, while serotonin can encourage happiness and relaxation.
Not to mention, the simple act of taking 60 minutes for self-care can help you unwind mentally and physically. Massage therapy often promotes total-body relaxation with soothing music and aromatherapy. Even physical touch has been shown to reduce stress quickly and effectively.
5. Rehabilitates Athletic Injuries
Soreness and injuries are inevitable in most sports. That’s why massage therapy acts as an integral part of an athlete’s routine. Whether you have a student athlete or play league sports, this treatment option can provide countless benefits, including:
- Decreased muscle stiffness
- Increased range of motion
- Reduced swelling and inflammation
- Prevention of future injuries
- Better athletic performance
Deep tissue massage removes toxins and sends blood and key nutrients to injured areas to promote faster recovery and proper healing. It can even break up scar tissue and encourage your body to restart the healing process in older injuries.
Using massage therapy after hard sessions can delay the onset of soreness by clearing lactic acid build-up, a major cause of discomfort. The techniques also help with muscle fatigue to ensure your body performs at its best during every game.
Your massage therapist will use specific techniques for athletes, like stretching. This method aids tight, twisted muscles and discourages active and passive stiffness to increase your flexibility and range of motion.
6. Breaks up scar tissue
Scar tissue is a natural part of the body’s healing process. However, when this tissue forms improperly, it can become restrictive, painful, and stiff. Fortunately, scar tissue doesn’t have to be permanent—and it can even be remodeled to resemble healthy muscle tissue.
Deep tissue massage can break up scar tissue by increasing lymphatic circulation and drainage. If your scars are less than two years old, your therapist can break it down and help properly align the collagen cells and fibers. It can take time to break down scar tissue, so regular visits are necessary if this is your goal.
This therapy is also encouraged for post-surgical recovery as it can help the scars form correctly. For older problems, Bend Total Body also offers the Graston technique to break up difficult-to-treat scar tissue and old injuries.
7. Improves Arthritis Pain
Nearly 1 in 4 adults deals with arthritis in the muscles, joints, and tendons. This condition is characterized by pain, stiffness, and swelling in the affected joints. Deep tissue massage works in conjunction with your traditional treatment plan to deliver extended relief.
Massage therapy improves circulation to arthritic joints and decreases inflammation. This effect boosts your range of motion to keep you moving, breaking the cycle of stiffness and soreness that keeps you sedentary.
Many people also experience acute insomnia due to arthritic pain. By soothing your symptoms, massage therapy can encourage a better night’s rest.
8. Helps Labor and Delivery
Pregnancy, while a magical time in a woman’s life, can often result in some miserable symptoms. Fortunately, regular massage therapy during and after pregnancy can make this time more enjoyable.
Common benefits of pregnancy massage include:
- Increased circulation and blood oxygen, which benefits the baby
- Decreased pain in muscles and joints, especially the lower back
- Less muscle tension
- Stress and anxiety relief
- Reduced swelling
- Better sleep
Deep tissue massage therapy not only encourages physical and mental relaxation, but it also helps regulate key hormones. This therapy decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, while increasing feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine. So, expectant mothers leave their session feeling happier and more at ease.
Massage therapy can also help during labor. It’s thought that stimulating painful areas can encourage the brain to release its own pain-relieving endorphins. In other situations, massage techniques flood the body with pleasant sensations, blocking pain signals. Be sure to ask your therapist for at-home massage techniques that you can do when the time comes.
Regular massage throughout your pregnancy can result in less labor pain and shorter delivery times. Some mothers even feel less need for medication.
Always ensure that your massage therapist is thoroughly trained in pre-natal massage techniques. Some areas can induce labor or even cause complications, so they should not be stimulated during your session. For example, pregnancy can cause sluggish blood flow to the legs. However, your therapist should avoid deep tissue techniques here to prevent dislodging blood clots that could travel to vital organs.
Deep Tissue Massage at Total Body Chiropractic
If you’re dealing with ongoing discomfort that is impacting your quality of life, massage therapy can help. This treatment option offers a non-invasive and extremely relaxing way to address the root of your problems. You will experience a range of benefits during your session to help you feel your best on and off the table.
Are you new to massage therapy? We offer several types of massage options to help you work your way up to the intensity of deep tissue. Schedule your appointment and treat yourself to relaxation today!