Are Making Sense of Deep Tissue

Welcome to the Swift Results Massage Therapy blog.

In this blog on Making Sense of Massage we hope to make sense of DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE by explaining what’s involved, the benefits and some contraindications (reasons why Deep Tissue Massage is inadvisable).


Hi everyone and welcome to our second blog. I said we would be writing regular posts, so here we are; Ross Mollenhauer and Sarah Humphreys, your friendly helpful massage therapist from Swift Results Massage Therapy, Cleveland, Brisbane.
In our latest blog we attempted to make sense of Remedial Massage. In this blog we will endeavour to Make Sense of Deep Tissue Massage. We will explain what a Deep Tissue Massage is. What it does. What the benefits are, and we will point out the instances when a Deep Tissue Massage would NOT be advisable.
We will provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Deep Tissue Massage. For example, how does it work? Does it hurt? What techniques are used? Will it make me taller, slimmer, younger, and will I be able to sail single-handedly round the world afterwards? While the answers to most of those questions are, ‘no,’ there are still many benefits to be gained from a Deep Tissue Massage – as we will explain later in the blog.

The picture above show the basic muscle groups of the body. Only some of the many types of muscles that are treated during a Deep Tissue Massage.

So, just what is a Deep Tissue Massage??
We’re glad you asked!!! Deep Tissue Massage is arguably similar to a relaxation massage, but it is deeper in pressure because it focuses on releasing chronic muscle tension. (The deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia). These are made up of the protective layers around the muscles, bones and joints. Below is a basic example of what these layers look like. So as you can see, we need to get in there nice n deep to release pain and tension in these areas.

How does it work?
When the muscles are really tense or injured there maybe bands of painful stiff tissue – called adhesions or knots. These adhesions result in the following conditions.
• Reduced circulation,
• Increased pain
• Restricting movement
• Inflammation

During a Deep Tissue Massage, the therapist breaks these adhesions to reduce pain and to encourage normal movement. This is usually done either with or without oil and with the application of deep pressure. It is recommended that the client be relaxed while a deep tissue treatment is taking place. This allows the therapist to reach the deeper layers of your muscles.
(A short clip of deep tissue massage could be shown here)
Ouch, sounds painful. Does it hurt?
Generally, a Deep Tissue Massage shouldn’t hurt. However, you may find some discomfort and pain during the treatment, especially if your muscles are extremely sore or stiff or if the level of pressure is outside your pain threshold. If the pressure is too intense, it will cause you to consciously or unconsciously tense up. This will make it more difficult for the therapist to treat the deeper layers of muscle. You MUST tell your therapist if the level of pressure is too intense and you want to break free. Sing out in your best Freddie Mercury voice if you like! … “God knows I want to break free!!” Lol… Yep. I’m a Queen fan. What can I say?

Why does it make it more difficult for the therapist to treat my muscles if I’m consciously or unconsciously tensing?
Imagine you are trying to flatten out a pumped rubber tyre. (The pumped tyre and the rubber represent your muscles while you are tensing). The rubber and the air pressure in the tyre would keep it firm and strong – (hence the expression, ‘PUMPED’) and you (the therapist) are trying to loosen the tyre by manipulating it with your fingers, hands, arms, elbows (which are the techniques used by a qualified therapist during a Deep Tissue massage). You would be putting pressure on the tyre but, because of the air pressure and the rubber, the tyre would remain resistant to your touch. Despite your best efforts to loosen it up, (or flatten it out) the tyre would remain stubbornly firm and non-budging under your touch.

And while I’m not suggesting for a minute that any of our clients are built like Michelin Man, what I am saying, is that this would be pretty much the same for a therapist trying to loosen your tight muscles while you were tensing. While your muscles were tense, they would be put under pressure. Your therapist would also be applying pressure to the tense muscles through their Deep Tissue techniques; but because of the resistance (as with the pumped tyre) the therapist would not make much progress. The muscles would remain tense and non-budging. So, as a result of this conscious or non-conscious tensing the results of the massage would be far less beneficial. It is very important to speak to your therapist if the massage is causing too much discomfort, as optimum results will be achieved ONLY if the muscles are relaxed.

What techniques are used in a Deep Tissue Massage?
The techniques used in a deep tissue massage are usually slow and deep. A therapist can use their fingers using trigger point on certain points of the muscle.
• Trigger Points are sensitive areas of the body or stimulation which result in particular outcomes in other areas. This could be a tender area in a muscle causing pain when they are over worked.) hands, forearms and elbows (again to use as trigger points on certain points of the muscle),
• Myofascial Release – This involves applying a gentle and supportive pressure into the connective tissues to rid them of pain and to encourage unrestricted movement.
• Cross Fiber Friction ( a technique that helps break down knots which occur during injuries, tears, breaks or sprains)(Deep tissue technique clip could be placed here)



      Will I be sore after afterwards?

There may be some stiffness or pain after the massage. This is normal and it usually goes away within a few days. Your therapist may tell you to place an ice pack on the sore areas and to stretch them. At Swift Results Massage Therapy we would recommend a Deep Tissue Massage if;
a) You are experiencing long term stiffness or soreness
b) You have a higher pain threshold
c) You receive regular Deep Tissue or Remedial Massages.
d) You are new to massage (If you are new to massage we would recommend a light Massage or a lighter Remedial Massage.)
(A video clip of some stretches could be inserted here)

What are the benefits of a Deep Tissue Massage?
Generally, Deep Tissue Massage focuses on a specific problem. This could be, for example, a long term injury with pain, injury rehabilitation, and lower back pain. It is also beneficial to treat the following symptoms:
• Restricted mobility
• Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
• Problems relating to posture
Muscle Tension – This includes the following areas.
a) Hamstrings (upper back parts of the legs)
b) Glutes (muscles of the buttocks, yes there are muscles in your buttocks!!)
c) IT band (a band down the side of upper legs. These muscles start near the hip and wrap themselves around the knee.)
d) Quadriceps ( the group of muscles at the front of your upper legs),
e) Rhomboids ( a group of muscles in the upper back)
f) The upper back in general
• Osteoarthritis pain (the pain resulting in the wear and tear of your joints. As a result of your bones rubbing together. This causes joint inflammation.)
• Sciatica (pain in the lower parts of your body. It is felt from the lower back from behind the thigh. The pain can also be felt behind the knee.)    add three pics lol

• Piriformis Syndrome (is when the Piriformis muscle in your buttocks area spasms and causes pain in that area. It can also aggravate the sciatic nerve causing pain, numbness and tingling down the back of the leg and into the foot- quite like sciatic pain.)
• Tennis Elbow (the outside of the elbow becomes sore and the forearms become damaged as a result from over use and repetitive movement)
• Fibromyalgia (condition which causes you to become lethargic and to have sore muscles. People with this condition are sore and tender throughout their bodies)
• Muscle tension or spasm
• After a workout or bodybuilding

These guys would definitely benefit from a deep tissue massage after their beach run!!!

 A deep tissue massage can help treat all of that OMG! I had no idea!

Lol. Yes a Deep Tissue can be an amazing type of massage to have done especially if you are experiencing one or more of the above conditions. Although a Deep Tissue Massage is not for everyone, we have many clients who prefer this deeper, more intense type of massage. After experiencing regular Deep Tissue Massages they feel that, for them, this is the one that does the trick. At Swift Results Massage Therapy we would suggest to any clients considering Deep Tissue Massage for the first time to fill out the pre-massage paperwork and describe to your therapist any condition which may preclude you from Deep Tissue Massage, as there are many instances when a Deep Tissue Massage may not be suitable.

Really? Do tell.

There are many instances where Deep Tissue massage may not be advisable. Here are some of them. Ok Here goes:

  • Pregnancy. Ladies, If you are pregnant, CONGRATULATIONS! However, you might want to avoid this type of massage as strong pressure will be applied. Certain areas should not have firm pressure applied such as legs, pelvic areas, wrists, hands and ankles. The reason being is that while you are pregnant you are at higher risk of blood clots, and Deep Tissue Massage (especially on the legs) may cause a blood clot resulting in a serious health risk. But don’t despair ladies!! You can still have a Pregnancy Massage which is specially designed for the precious needs of Mums-To-Be. This should be done by a qualified Prenatal Therapist. Talk to them about your specific needs, soreness, morning sickness where you would like massaged etc. Feel free to talk about the amount of pressure that is safe for you. Your Prenatal Therapist will only be too happy to help! It may be recommended that you take along medical documentation from your doctor confirming your symptoms and the type of massage you are able to receive.
  • Atherosclerosis – This occurs when there is a build-up of plaque in your artery walls. Care needs to be given so that blood clots are not moved as a result of treatment.
  • Arteriosclerosis – (hardened arteries). Caution is required as high blood pressure could be present. No Deep Tissue Treatment is advised in the advanced stages. Ask your doctor to give you medical clearance for your work if you are taking medication for circulatory issues.
  • Autoimmune diseases. These result when the Immune System accidently attacks its own cells, tissues and organs, resulting in inflammation and damage.  Your therapist will not work on critically inflamed tissues. Different types of autoimmune diseases include:
  • a) Lupus – occurs when your immune system attacks the connective tissue. This would normally be the skin, kidneys, joints and heart. A deep tissue massage would be unsafe during acute flares.
  • b) Rheumatoid Arthritis – is when your immune system attacks your joints, and its associated muscles, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels; receiving a Deep tissue massage would be dangerous during the inflammatory stage.
  • c) Scleroderma or hardened skin – is a build-up of collagen fibres around your organs (problems with absorption when around the small intestines) and in the second layer of your skin called the dermis; when this occurs there is an increased stiffness in your joints along with muscle weakness. Not a great idea to receive a deep tissue massage when inflamed.
  • d) Ankylosing spondylitis – is inflammation of the tissues around your spine. This causes the connective tissues of the sacrum (the wedge shaped vertebra at the lower end of the spine. This forms a base of the spinal column and is in conjunction with your hip bones to form the pelvis.) And spine to solidify. Your Therapist should not work on areas of pain and inflammation in serious or acute episodes.
  • Bipolar Disorder (manic depressive) if you have Bipolar a deep tissue massage may increase mood your swings.
  • Epilepsy- If you have epilepsy a Deep Tissue Massage may bring on hyperventilation due to the deep pressure of the techniques.
  • Extreme High Blood Pressure. You should avoid receiving a deep tissue treatment as it could heighten your condition.

Wow there are a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t get a Deep Tissue Massage

Yes there are. Deep Tissue treatments aren’t for everybody. If you do have one of the above mentioned conditions a softer style of massage or a relaxation massage may be more suitable for you. Please consult your doctor if you are unsure about what kind of massage you are able to receive.

We hope we have made sense of Deep Tissue Massage for you . . .
Thank you for taking the time to read our blog. Please remember to take the time to be kind to your body during these last few frantic weeks before Christmas. Treat it with the care and attention it deserves, and reward it occasionally with well-earned massage. After all, it’s worked hard for you all year!
That’s all for now, but, as the saying goes… watch this space folks!
Please leave any comments or questions you may have as we would love to hear from you. If you would like to view our website please click on the link

Ross & Sarah