Maggie Nolan is a fully qualified Remedial massage therapist with over 15 years experience in the industry.
Deep Tissue Massage
What is Deep Tissue Massage?
Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. It is especially helpful for chronic aches and pains and contracted areas such as stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders.
The movements tend to be much slower and the pressure is deeper and concentrated on areas of tension and pain in order to reach the sub-layer of muscles and the fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles).
What to expect during a Deep Tissue Massage?
When there is chronic muscle tension or injury, there are usually adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) in muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Adhesions can block circulation and cause pain, limited movement, and inflammation.
Deep tissue massage works by physically breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain and restore normal movement. To do this, I use massage oil and often use direct deep pressure, but only after firstly relaxing the muscle with the use of heat packs or hot stones, in this way I can release the hold on the connective tissue, which then enables me to work deeper without too much unnecessary pain.
Some of the techniques I use are fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows, and forearms during the deep tissue massage.
I may ask you to breathe deeply as I work on certain tense areas.
Does Deep Tissue Massage Hurt?
As I use the technique I described above to limit pain during deep tissue massage, at certain points during the massage, some people find there is usually some discomfort.
So I encourage my clients to communicate with me as to when things hurt and if any soreness or pain you experience is outside your comfort range.
There is usually some stiffness or pain after a deep tissue massage, but it should subside within a day or so. I may recommend applying ice, heat or castor oil packs to the area after the massage.
Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, such as chronic muscle pain, injury rehabilitation, and the following conditions:
MET (muscle energy technique) and PNF Stretching
Massage clients often present with muscle spasm, painful trigger points, and limited range of motion (ROM). I may use MET stretching during a massage session to enhance outcomes of improved mobility and comfort.
PNF stretching is similar to MET as in it uses an isometric contraction of the agonist to achieve the desire range of motion. The difference between PNF and MET is the force of the isometric contraction, and there is no breathing pattern involved.
To summarize MET and PNF Stretching
I would position the short muscle into a stretch or the point where it just starts to bind.
Ask will then ask my client to use 20 percent to 50 percent intensity isometric contraction of the short muscle against my resistance.
You then hold the isometric contraction for 3-10 seconds with a brief rest period of 2-3 seconds.
The patient inhales as they isometrically contract, and release the breath as relax, and then repeat a full cycle of breathing.
I will then provide a passive or active assistive stretch, a bit beyond the resistance barrier within the tolerance of my client.
I may then ask my client to activate the antagonist to move beyond the barrier into the greater range of motion (ROM).
Perform three to five repetitions of the activity and reassess the ROM, pain level and function.
MET and PNF stretching and other techniques of stretching are used within a sports massage consultation, however I tend to also combine different modalities e.g. deep tissue techniques, trigger point and lymphatic massage to my treatments depending on what the person needs.
What is Cross Fibre Mobilisation Technique?
Cross fibre mobilisation as the name suggests, is the mobilisation of the connective tissue fibres by working transversely across them.
The technique is derived from the Bowen technique which was developed by Tom Bowen in the eighties.
I use Cross fibre mobilisation in combination with my other massage techniques, I find it a very useful tool in helping with such conditions as; Sciatica, frozen shoulder, neck and shoulder tension, to name a few.
The technique consists of a series of rolling the connective tissue in a gentle fashion. It uses a light touch and it can be done through clothing.
There are frequent important pauses between the moves; this is done to give the body time to benefit from each set of moves.