Deep tissue massage offers both physical and psychological benefits. Unlike other massage techniques that focus on relaxation, deep tissue massage helps to treat muscle pain and improve stiffness. But it can still help to you unwind mentally, too.
A 2014 study involving 59 participants found that deep tissue massage helped to reduce pain in people with chronic low back. The authors likened its effects to those of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil).
People have also reported that deep tissue massage helps with:
high blood pressure
What happens during the massage?
Before your deep tissue massage, your massage therapist will want to know about your problem areas. A deep tissue massage can involve your entire body or just one area.
Once ready, you’ll be asked to lie on your back or stomach, under a bath towel. Your level of undress is based on your comfort, but the area being worked on will need to be exposed.
The massage therapist will warm up your muscles using a lighter touch. Once you’re warmed up, they’ll start working on your problem areas. They’ll use deep kneading and stroking with varying amounts of intense pressure.
Are there any side effects?
It’s not unusual to have some lingering soreness for a few days following a deep tissue massage. Using a heating pad or a cold pack wrapped in a towel may help to relieve soreness.
Though massage therapy is generally safe, deep tissue massage uses very firm pressure and may not be safe for everyone.
Speak to your doctor before having a deep tissue massage if you:
have a history of blood clots or a clotting disorder
are taking blood thinners
have a bleeding disorder
have cancer or are undergoing cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation
Anyone with osteoporosis or cancer that’s spread to the bones should avoid deep tissue massage as the firm pressure used may cause a fracture. You should also hold off on deep tissue massages if you’re pregnant. Gentler types of massage, such as Swedish massage, may be a better option.
If you have an open wound or skin infection of any kind, you’ll need to reschedule to avoid developing a new infection or making an existing one worse.