The Ultimate Guide To Deep Tissue Massage: Everything You Need To Know

Are you looking for a deep tissue massage? Maybe you want a massage but aren’t sure what type to get?

If you want to know what a deep tissue massage is, what it involves and what the benefits are, you’re in the right place!

In this post, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about deep tissue massage, talk about the upsides and downsides – because it really isn’t for everyone (based on my experience)..

So sit back, relax, and let us help take the guesswork out of picking the perfect massage for you.

Key Facts About Deep Tissue Massage:

  • Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that targets the deep layers of your muscles and connective tissues.
  • This form of massage uses firm pressure and can help alleviate tension and pain.
  • Deep tissue massage differs from other types of massage in its focus and intensity.
  • It can help with conditions like fibromyalgia, reduce blood pressure and heart rate, and relieve tension headaches, neck pain, lower back pain, and shoulder pain.
  • While some believe that deep tissue massage can help with cellulite, the evidence supporting this claim is not strong.
  • Deep tissue massage is generally not associated with causing swollen lymph nodes.
  • A session typically lasts between 30-60 minutes, depending on your needs and the therapist’s assessment.
Deep Tissue Massage

What Is Deep-Tissue Massage Therapy?

A deep tissue massage is a type of massage that focuses on the deep muscle tissue of the body. It’s usually more intense than other types of massage.

The massage therapist will use their hands and elbows, to work on the deepest parts of the muscles over your entire body.

This can be really satisfying because it helps release tension and pain.

For a lot of people, it can be a bit intimidating, because to work on the deeper layers of muscle, you need to use much (much) firmer pressure than other types of massage.

But because of its intensity, it’s great for dealing with muscle soreness and tension, as it can really work those ‘knots’ out – believe me, with a deep tissue massage, those knots can run but they can’t hide!

Personally, it’s my favorite kind of massage and I sleep like a baby after having one 🙂

What happens when you get a deep tissue massage?

Like most massages, you’ll usually be laying down and the massage therapist will work on your whole body, from head to toe.

During the massage, they’ll use their hands, elbows and (sometimes) even their feet to press and massage different parts of your body.

They’ll use their hands to move around the muscles and really lean into your body to reach deep into the muscles. 

The amount of pressure used can be a bit of a surprise if you’ve never had one before, but it’s actually really relaxing – once you get over the initial shock!.

The massage itself usually lasts around 30-60 minutes, but if you’re feeling particularly tense or sore, the therapist might spend a bit longer working on those knots!

Once the massage is over, you’ll be able to move around as usual – albeit a little more slowly than usual.

Being completely honest, it may even cause pain whilst you having the massage and it’s not unusual to experience a little soreness – even the next day. 

Different strokes for different folks?

As I said at the beginning, this kind of therapeutic massage isn’t necessarily for everyone. 

If you have a really low pain threshold, you might want to consider another kind of massage, there’s nothing worse than paying for an experience you hate!

I’m not trying to put you off – I think deep tissue massage is a fantastic way to relax your whole body and get all sorts of benefits – from reducing tension and pain to improving circulation and relieving stress.

But you do need to understand that it might not actually feel that relaxing at the time…

That being said, the feeling of relaxation you get after a session is truly the best!

How deep tissue massage differs from other types of massage

Deep tissue massage is usually performed on a section of the body that’s been specifically targeted with pressure and strokes.

This can include muscles, tendons, and ligaments – which makes it a great choice if you’re looking to relieve tension, pain or soreness.

The bottom line is, deep tissue massage uses a lot more sustained pressure than other types of massage, so it’s not just a light gentle feeling you get with most massages.

This means that it can work out knots and relieve tension in your muscles, 

Swedish massage and sports massage are both forms of tissue massage, but they are very different in terms of the pressure used.

Swedish massage uses (much) less pressure and sometimes uses kneading motions to release tension.

Sports massage, on the other hand, is designed to improve blood circulation and reduce inflammation.

How is a Deep Tissue Massage Different from a Swedish Massage?

As these are the most well-known massages, there is always a bit of confusion about how they’re different. So let’s clear that up now 🙂

As we’ve already discussed, deep tissue focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. It is used to treat chronic aches and pain and contracted areas such as a stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders.

A Swedish massage on the other hand, is a relaxation massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to help the body relax.

Swedish massage can be very relaxing, but it’s not always as effective as deep tissue in terms of releasing tension and pain.

So you need to decide which is important to you – something more relaxing, or something that (quite vigorously) ‘attacks’ a problem that you are having with muscle soreness or tension.

Deep tissue massage benefits

One of the main benefits is that it helps by breaking down adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) that can disrupt circulation and cause pain, limited range of motion, and inflammation.

Adhesions and scarring can form after an injury or surgery, or because of chronic poor posture or repetitive stress. Deep tissue massage can help improve blood flow and circulation, increase range of motion, reduce muscle tension, relieve pain and even break down scar tissue!

Other benefits of deep tissue massage include:

  1. helping reduce tension and stress in the body.
  2. improving circulation and lymphatic drainage, which means they’re great for overall health.
  3. relieving pain and inflammation, which is why they’re often recommended for athletes and people with chronic pain.
  4. And last but not least, deep tissue massages are incredibly relaxing!

So if you’re looking for some serious self-care, a deep tissue massage may be the perfect option for you – if you think you can take the pressure of course!

A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that people with fibromyalgia who received deep tissue massage had less pain, improved sleep quality, and increased range of motion.

Other studies have shown that it can help reduce blood pressure and heart rate, as well as relieve tension headaches, neck pain, lower back pain, and shoulder pain.

Overall, there are a lot of great benefits to getting a deep tissue massage!

When to use deep tissue or sports massage therapy

Well, to be honest, that is something that should be looked at on an individual basis, so you’re best off talking it through with a licensed massage therapist. 

But in general, sports massage is better if you are experiencing pain or tightness in a particular area, while deep tissue massage is better if you are looking to treat chronic pain or injury. 

So are you brave enough to have a deep tissue massage?

If you’re thinking about it, then there’s probably a good reason why – deep tissue massages are some of the most rejuvenating, therapeutic, and relaxing experiences you can have (well certainly by that evening anyway…).

Sure there might be a little discomfort at the time (you’ll get used to this after about 15 mins or so) BUT you’ll feel like a million dollars afterward.

Not only do they work out all the kinks in your muscles and tendons, but they also help to promote circulation and lymph drainage.

If you’ve never tried it really is worth a go. You’ll be shocked at high tight your muscles are and how many knots you have!

So if you’re looking for a way to get your body moving and relax your mind, then a deep tissue massage may be just what you need.

Deep Tissue FAQ

How long should a deep tissue massage be?

As a general rule of thumb, it should last around thirty minutes. However, this is completely up to the therapist (and you!) Some may choose to give a shorter massage while others may choose to spend a long time working on specific areas.

Do Deep Tissue Massages Hurt?

There are many people out there that believe that these massages are always painful.

That’s not always the case. In fact, it can be quite soothing and relieving if done correctly.

There is definitely a lot more pressure applied than in other forms of massage – so you may find this uncomfortable or sore afterward.

Bottom line – if you know what you’re letting yourself in for, it can actually be quite enjoyable. At least I think so!

Are deep tissue massages good for you?

There is a lot of controversy surrounding deep tissue massages. Some people swear by them, saying that they are incredibly effective at relieving pain and tension in the body.

Others say that they are nothing more than an expensive way to feel good for a short period of time.

The truth probably lies somewhere in between 🙂

It can certainly be helpful in reducing stress and pain, but they are not always necessary or even appropriate for every person.

Before you book an appointment, it is worth consulting with your doctor or massage therapist to see if it’s right for you.

Does A Deep Tissue Massage Help With Cellulite?

Maybe. Some studies have shown that it can improve circulation and reduce inflammation, but these benefits may not be specific to cellulite. 

So while there is some evidence that it can help with conditions like tension headaches and chronic pain, it’s unclear if they are effective for treating cellulite specifically.

Can Deep tissue Massage Cause Swollen Lymph Nodes?

While there is no concrete answer, most massage therapists will tell you that the likelihood of this occurring is very low.

Many factors can contribute to swelling – including age, weight, and medical conditions – so it’s important to speak with your therapist about any concerns you may have before scheduling a session.

References and further reading:

If you’d like to know more about deep tissue massage – and read up on some of the science and research behind it’s affect and benefits, please check out the sources below:

  1. Deep tissue massage: Benefits, risks, and what to expect – Medical News Today
  2. Deep Tissue Massage: Benefits, What to Expect, and Side Effects – Healthline
  3. Deep Tissue Massage: What Is It, Benefits, And Everything You Should Know – Soothe
  4. Effect of sports massage on performance and recovery: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  5. Benefits of a Deep Tissue Massage – The Carl Todd Clinic
  6. Deep tissue massage: Benefits, risks, and what to expect – Medical News Today
  7. Deep tissue massage and cellulite studies
  8. Deeptissue massage causing swollen lymph nodes