How To Give A Deep Tissue Massage In 5 Simple Steps?

How to give a deep tissue massage, that’s the question a lot of people are asking. You’ve probably heard that it is one of the most effective in removing muscle tightness and stress. It is also good for stiff neck, back tightness and sore shoulders. But how does it work? Let’s find out what DTM is about and what it is all about.

What is Deep Tissue Massage?

What is Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage or DTM provides relief by working on deep tissue layers where the tension and pain are felt. This massage applies slow strokes and firm pressure to soothe the muscles and the tissues that interconnect them. Deep tissue massage offers relief for sore shoulders, upper and lower back tightness and stiff neck.

What to Expect from Deep Tissue Massage

During a deep tissue massage you can expect the therapist to use their forearms, elbows, hands, knuckles and fingertips or massage tools. Any number of these may be used in combination as you’re being massaged.

Following the massage you may feel a bit of soreness or stiffness. This is to be expected but the discomfort should dissipate in a couple of days. It also helps to drink water to deal with the pain.

7 Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

There are a lot of good reasons why deep tissue massage is popular, not the least of which are the following.

1. Treats Chronic Back Pain

Treats Chronic Back Pain

Researchers have determined that deep tissue massage is good for relieving chronic back pain. In a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, scientists learned that deep tissue massage has good effects on blood pressure.

The study also showed that deep tissue massage is just as effective as NSAID painkillers but without the unpleasant side effects. The study also revealed DTM provides relief after 10 days, with more improvement compared to regular massage.

The Studies in Health Technology and Informatics also published a study which showed the efficiency of DTM. The studies focused on 30 minute DTM sessions and the participants didn’t get any additional treatments.

At the end of the observation period researchers determined that DTM resulted in reduced back pain significantly. Improvements were also noted when the neck, arms and shoulders are massaged.

2. Helps Lower High Blood Pressure

Deep tissue massage is also good for regulating hypertension in adults. What happens is DTM improves blood circulation so you’re less vulnerable to changes in blood pressure and the complications that come with it.

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study indicating that DTM is effective for hypertension. The arterial, diastolic and systolic are all positively affected as well. The research included 263 participants, with each one afflicted with moderate to severe muscle pain.

The DTM sessions in the study last for 45 to 60 minutes, and the results showed the following.

  • 7.0 mm/Hg arterial pressure reduction
  • 5.3 mm/Hg diastolic pressure reduction
  • 10.4 mm/Hg systolic pressure reduction
  • 10.8 beats per minute average heart reduction

3. Reduces Stress, Anxiety and Muscle Tension

Reduces Stress

It is well known that massage is a good stress reliever, and DTM is one of the best. With regular DTM, your body’s cortisol level goes down. What is even better is DTM increases the level of oxytocin in your body. This is a hormone that makes you feel good and relaxes your muscles.

Muscle tension and chronic stress lead to inflammation and can cause health complications such as hypertension, prolonged recovery time and weakened immunity. Studies also prove that DTM increases oxytocin and lowers cortisol at the same time. Oxytocin is especially important because it acts it provides energy and makes you feel good. The research also revealed that DTM stimulates relaxation by lowering high blood pressure as mentioned above.

4. Breaks Up Scar Tissue

One of the lesser known benefits of DTM is its ability to heal scar tissues. This is an important element especially if you’re recovering from an injury as scars can slow you down and make you stiff.

Researchers have determined that massage stimulates blood flow, reducing muscle spasms and inflammation and speeding up muscle recovery. DTM also allows your body to receive extra oxygen that cuts down your body’s stress response.

Stress and injury can impede proper blood circulation and prevent them from getting to the damaged muscles. This also means your body won’t be able to provide oxygen and nutrients to these tissues and delay recovery.

The problem worsens as this condition as toxins spread in the damaged tissue. This leads to more inflammation, but with DTM a lot of these problems can be overcome.

5. Improves Athletic Recovery and Performance

Improves Athletic Recovery

Have you noticed how athletes get a massage after conducting some strenuous activity? That only goes to show how effective it is. With deep tissue massage you’ll be less prone to injury, muscle fatigue and soreness. It also speeds up your recovery process so you can do more workouts and other activities.

The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness published a study which revealed that deep tissue massage improves performance and accelerates recovery after working out. the most efficient are the DTM sports massage done prior and after competition.

The studies also revealed that deep tissue massage enhances the body’s immune system and makes it more resistant to injuries. DTM also boosts lactose clearance and prevents muscle soreness and delays the onset of fatigue.

The same study also showed that DTM offers psychological benefits, i.e it improves self-confidence and better focus. A lot of study is still being done in this aspect, but there is no questioning its physical benefits.

6. Can Help with Labor Pain and Delivery

One of the lesser known benefits of DTM is it lowers anxiety during pregnancy. Women who get DTM before and during labor are less vulnerable to back pain. They are also less likely to suffer from leg pain, depression and anxiety.

More and more women now resort to natural methods like acupuncture to cope with pregnancy labor pain. While acupuncture is good, researchers have determined that massage therapy including DTM is even more efficient.

Scientists have learned that light massage is good for pregnant women as it reduces stress, back and leg pain. Regular massage also fights off depression and cramps. One of the more significant findings of the study is that women who underwent massaging before and during labor experienced less pain.

One of the reasons for this is DTM lowers cortisol levels, and this is also the reason why fetal activity isn’t as excessive. By eliminating excess activity the chances of premature delivery are reduced.

7. Reduces Arthritis Symptoms

Reduces Arthritis Symptoms

Many types of massage are good for relieving symptoms of arthritis, but deep tissue massage is the most effective. This might be surprising for some, but the Arthritis Foundation has stated deep massage is effective in treating arthritic pain.

The same studies also reveal that DTM provides relief for those with joint pain that limits their mobility and flexibility. Deep tissue massage also provides relief for anxiety and reduces the discomfort felt from regular aches and pains.

The firmer the massage pressure, the more it is likely to reduce arthritic pain. This is particularly true for those who suffer from chronic pain. One of the more interesting findings in the report is that massage slows heartbeats down, helping with relaxation and reducing stress.

How To Give A Deep Tissue Massage Properly?

How To Give A Deep Tissue Massage Properly

Deep tissue massages put emphasis on removing tension in your body. The key to an effective DTM is to use the right approach and have sufficient knowledge of what you’re doing

Step 1

Learn the fundamentals of human muscle anatomy, in particular the sectors that you will likely massage often. Start learning about the back then the shoulders, neck and arms.

Step 2

Begin by applying some massage lotion or oil on the part that you will massage. Now position your forearm cross wise and run it on the back of your client up and down. Avoid pushing with your forearm but instead use your weight to lean in.

Allow your forearm to slide downward along your client’s back. Now slide upward. Take care not to hit any bones and the spine. Just focus on the muscles.

Step 3

Use your thumbs or fingertips to look for the muscles. Once you find the muscles, apply pressure on them with your thumbs or fingertips. Find the tense or knotted areas and also those where muscle movement is restricted.

Learn to find those areas as they are the ones people will likely ask to be massaged. That part is often tender and are the ones you need to work on.

Step 4

Apply extra pressure on the tight and knotted muscle areas. Do not attempt to smooth the knots too rapidly and avoid shoulder pushing. Take your time and apply firm but gentle pressure. This will enable you to apply more pressure

Step 5

Keep an open communication line with the person you’re massaging. This way you’ll now whether to increase or decrease the pressure.

How To Prepare For A Deep Tissue Massage?

How To Prepare For A Deep Tissue Massage
Step 1

Locate a qualified massage therapist, someone who is skilled in DTM. Look for one near your area and learn as much about their background and experience as you can.

Step 2

If you’re recovering from an injury, provide your therapist with all the necessary medical information. This is necessary so they’ll know how to proceed and avoid worsening your injury. You should also mention any scents or aroma that you’re allergic to avoid their use during the session.

Step 3

Drink water prior and after the massage. This is necessary to keep you hydrated during the process as it will be more intense than the typical massage. During a DTM your knotted muscles will loosen up and eliminate toxins in your body. This might cause you to feel nauseous or tired, hence the need for water.

Step 4

Taking a shower before a massage loosens your body so the process is easier. Showering also makes you more presentable to your therapist.

Step 5

Put on comfortable, loose clothing. This is going to help you feel more comfortable and feel the benefits right away. The loose clothing also comes in handy later as you might feel sore.  If you wear tight clothing you’ll be even more uncomfortable.

Types And Techniques Of Deep Tissue Massage

Types And Techniques Of Deep Tissue Massage

There are different types of deep tissue massages, and the technique depends on the massage therapist and the kind of treatment you want to have.

While there are many types, the cross grain is the most commonly used as it is good for relieving body aches and pains. It also more intense than regular massages that just focuses on purely relaxation.

The intense pressure is something that takes getting used to, but it’s something you’ll get used to. And the pressure is good because that is when the therapeutic elements come up. Other characteristics of DTMs are the following.

  • Some DTMs are more intense than others.
  • Some deep tissue massages are slow paced, while others are a bit faster. Compared to other massages, DTM is still slower however.
  • The average DTM is 90 minutes long, but the length is shortened in other cases.

NMT (neuromuscular therapy) is a type of DTM that uses deep strokes to soothe muscle tissues. NMT concentrates on manual therapy application to stimulate your muscle. NMT is also suitable for massaging muscles that have been inflamed.

NMT and other types of DTM also massage the areas surrounding the painful muscle, eliminating the tension. Other types of deep tissue massage concentrate on issues that cause muscle pain such as postural positioning, ergonomics, joint injuries and so on.

The techniques used in a DTM depends on what area is being treated. The method and the pressure will depend on whether the muscle is injured, recovering from an injury or tense.

The techniques don’t just focus on eliminating tension but improving posture as well. This is important as incorrect posture is often the reason for muscle pain and discomfort.

The differences between these DTM methods aside, they do share a lot of similarities. All deep tissue massages rely on movement and pressure to loosen up tight muscles and including the tissue around joints, muscles and bones.

The pressure level varies but it is always more intense than Swedish massages, and that is necessary to achieve the goal of removing pain. All the benefits mentioned above won’t be possible without the additional pressure.

Precautions For Deep Tissue Massages

While deep tissue massage is effective, it is not suitable for everyone. As noted here there is more pressure and is more intense than the typical massage. If you’re not used to this it will cause some discomfort and soreness.

If you’re pregnant, recovering from an injury or use brace, consult your physician first. Other things to keep in mind:

  • Deep tissue massages should be performed by qualified therapists.
  • If done incorrectly it could lead to complications and worsen your injuries.
  • Make sure only a qualified therapist works on the sensitive tissues around your muscles.
  • A DTM therapist is not thee same as your ordinary massage therapist. They are trained in the methods used to treat muscle stiffness, limited movements, inflammation and injuries and should not be attempted by anyone who doesn’t have sufficient training.
  • DTM usually needs multiple sessions to be effective. In some cases a single session will do but that’s rare. In any case, complete the sessions to get the maximum benefits. Ending it too early will provide only limited relief.

Finding A Trained Deep Tissue Massage Therapist

This point cannot be emphasized enough. Make sure the massage therapist is licensed and is truly capable of massaging painful and inflamed muscles. As pointed out above there are different types of DTM so you should look for one that specializes in the treatment you’re looking for.

Learn as much as you can about the massage therapist and the company they work for. Get feedback about their therapists from their clients. That is the best way too deal with your situation.

Requirements to be a massage therapist vary from state to state so check yours to be certain. Usually they need to graduate from an accredited massage therapy school and pass an exam.

The need for an experienced and licensed massage therapist is even more imperative if you are recovering from an injury. You’ll want the process done right to speed up your recovery.

Final Thoughts on Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is one of the most powerful methods that can be used to relieve a lot of body aches and pains. There are a lot of misconceptions about it, and this has led some to avoid it entirely.

But as has been shown here, deep tissue massage is safe, proven to work and does what it’s supposed to do. The technique itself isn’t hard to learn if you want to know how it works. Most importantly, the massage has been proven time and again to relieve pain.
Billy L. Osorio

My name is Billy. I am a computer engineer by profession. So, most of my work is on the desk. In my past days, I had many back pain issues due to a long time sitting, eating, working habit. I did a lot of studies and consulting for overcoming my problem. Now, I am trying to share my knowledge.

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