5 Best Deep Tissue Massage Techniques

Category: Massage Posted: 04 Oct 2018

Posted: 04 Oct 2018

Massage therapist applying a deep tissue massage technique to the body

Deep tissue massage therapy is one of the most highly requested types of massage delivered to homes and hotels in London. This full body treatment style is usually performed using oil and uses special techniques that allow your muscles to be more deeply penetrated than in a classic Swedish massage.

The techniques used in deep tissue massage can help release tension that may have built up over a long period of time and therefore be incredibly satisfying. When performed correctly, deep tissue massage is a style that also embraces relaxation, so it can be enjoyed as part of a spa day at home. The treatment is usually for the full body and is not as intensive or invasive as something like a sports massage which targets a specific zone or body part. 

Below we explore five of the most popular and effective deep tissue massage techniques. All of these methods should only be used by trained and experienced massage therapists and applied after the body has been appropriately warmed up.


Technique 1 – Sacrum Push 

This is a simple but effective technique to start any relaxing full-body deep tissue massage. The massage therapist places one hand below the small of your back, just above the sacrum, and then her other hand on top of the first. She will then start to slowly lean in, so that her body weight is gradually transferred from her knees or feet into the palm of her hands and through to your sacrum. The pressure is increased steadily until appropriate and then held in place for up to 30 seconds, whilst breathing slowly.

The technique delivers a deeply satisfying warm pressure to the core of the body at the base of the spine, soon relaxing both mind and body for the massage ahead. An excellent way to begin to any deep tissue routine and often performed in conjunction with measured breathing methods. 


Technique 2 – Elbow Pressure 

By placing the elbow of a slightly bent arm onto your body and leaning in towards you, a massage therapist can use their body weight to apply a much deeper pressure to your muscles. The mass of their whole body can be focused through the tip of their elbow, which is able to withstand more weight than fingers and thumbs alone.

Pressure is applied gently at first to ensure that the correct trigger point has been located, before being steadily increased. Once the optimum level has been reached, the position is held for 5 to 10 seconds. This technique is most commonly applied to aching shoulder muscles, either side of the top of the spine. It is important to ensure that the force is not misplaced onto bony areas as this can be painful and uncomfortable. The beauty is that the therapist can very effectively increase the strength which is focused directly on to the shoulders all the way up to her own weight, thus pleasing even the most demanding of deep tissue requests. 

It is best to use a slightly rounded elbow position rather than bent fully sharp, so that the technique results in a deep but comfortable movement rather than a painful harsh poke.


Technique 3 – Knuckle Pressure

Like elbow pressure, this technique utilises the joints of the therapist’s body which are more able to channel a deeper force than the tips of fingers. Your therapist will form a tight fist and push that fist into your body, knuckles first. Think of it as a slow motion punch, without the snapping impact, that continues to penetrate deep into your muscle tissues. Your therapist may also rock, rotate and roll her fist to further work the tissues and loosen tightness around the area. 

This method is best applied to the more fleshy parts of the body, such as the buttock and thigh muscles. 


Technique 4 – Double Finger Press 

Many people prefer to receive their massage from the fleshy parts of the tips of the therapist’s fingers. These parts of the body are softer and more padded, so can feel more comforting against skin. However because of the more delicate nature of these body parts, it can also be more challenging for a therapist to effectively apply deeper pressure using just their fingers.

One popular and effective method which allows the masseuse to use their fingers with more force is to place one hand on the client's body and then their other hand on top of the first. Pressure is then applied to the client’s body through the therapist's fingers by pushing the upper hand on to the lower, thus doubling up the strength of the fingers.

The double finger press massage technique can be used all over the body to apply oil and flowing effleurage strokes with a more penetrating level of pressure. Just like a double shot of espresso, this method is a double shot of the popular Swedish massage technique of effleurage.


Technique 5 – Thumb Rolls 

Most usually applied to the lower legs, this procedure allows your therapist to get quite deep into your calf muscles whilst still maintaining a soothing massage style. Your leg may be raised slightly and your foot placed over a rolled towel or pillow, to allow access to both the top and underneath of your calves.

Gripping one calf with both hands just above the ankle, with thumbs in the centre pointing up towards the heart and fingers wrapped around towards your shin bone, your masseuse will roll her thumbs in deep circular movements. She will then slide her hands methodically up your calf towards your thigh, repeating the rolling movement with her thumbs along the length of each calf. 

This technique allows the therapist to work on both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles together. By gripping the whole of the lower leg, it is also possible to squeeze inwards from all angles whilst performing thumb rolling, so that the client benefits from compression massage techniques at the same time. 


Pain During Deep Tissue Massage

Even though your therapist will be applying a stronger and deeper force during much of the treatment, a deep tissue massage should not hurt to a degree that you feel repeatedly uncomfortable or in severe pain. In fact many people request a deep tissue massage to aid sleep as they need a therapeutic and meaningful touch to fully relax. It is important to keep an open dialogue with your therapist throughout any treatment to inform them if you feel pain at any moment during your treatment so that it can then be quickly adjusted and you feel comfortable again.

You may feel some pain in the 24 – 48 hours after receiving a deep tissue massage using the techniques described above, especially if you do not receive them regularly. Toxins and built up lactate are encouraged to work their way out of your body and this process can cause moderate levels of pain as it happens. You should not experience any bruising, unless you are particularly sensitive to touch and any post-treatment pain should be disappear within a day or so. Drinking plenty of water helps speed up the recovery process and assist the delivery of nutrients to recovering muscles.