Want to learn more about deep tissue massage, its key features and what this kind of treatment involves? Follow this simple step by step guide to discover all you need to know!
The key feature which sets deep tissue massage therapy apart from other treatments is its focus on targeting deeper layers of muscle.
The most essential items needed to perform this kind of treatment is a professional massage therapist qualified in deep tissue techniques, a towel and some space. Choosing a therapist who has several years of experience is also sensible as effective deep tissue techniques require both skill and practice.
Further optional kit include aromatherapy oil or talcum powder (used to reduce friction in massage strokes), candles and music (used to create a calming atmosphere) and a massage table or treatment mat (although treatments can be carried out equally well on a normal bed or floor).
Deep tissue massages can be focused on a particular body area or cover the full body. The techniques applied in this style of therapy are designed to penetrate soft tissue a little deeper than a typical relaxing massage and are often used to help remedy simple sports injuries such as sprains and strains.
Other key benefits of therapeutic massage styles such as deep tissue include
- improving the range of motion around stiff joints
- releasing built up tension in soft tissue
- speeding up rehabilitation post injury
- improving and invigorating blood circulation around the body
Key characteristics of this treatment are slow strokes applied with a steady medium to firm pressure that specifically target aching areas.
The main ambition of deep tissue treatments is to relieve muscular pain and tension in the whole body.
In London, you can book a professional deep tissue therapist to visit you at home from just £50 for one hour of therapy, including travel.
Let’s move on to what to expect during a typical session. You can also use the following steps as a How To guide for performing deep tissue therapy.
1. Clean and tidy the room in which the session will take place. It is important to avoid any trip hazards for the therapist and, of course, first impressions matter!
2. Ensure there is an area of clear space about 2m by 1m. This can be an area of carpeted floor, a standard bed or a massage table. Cover the area with a cloth that you do not mind being covered or stained with treatment oil.
3. Adjust the heating in the room so that the temperature is about 21˚C. It is important for the room to be sufficiently warm so that the body being worked on is not cold.
4. Dim the lights, light some candles and put on some soothing music to ensure the atmosphere is calm and welcoming.
! Tip ! If it is an extra hot day, then set up two oscillating fans at opposite corners of the massage bed to create the feeling of beach side treatment.
1. The therapist and recipient introduce themselves to each other over a few minutes.
During this welcome stage, the therapist typically explains that they will be performing a deep tissue massage for the duration booked and asks the client if there are any specific areas they would like additional focus on … or indeed if there are any areas to be avoided.
You will also be asked about any conditions or injuries which could affect your ability to receive a massage (known as contraindications).
A very important aspect of the welcome stage is to get you to feel more comfortable with your therapist and aid relaxation in advance of the treatment beginning.
! Tip ! Get the best possible treatment by following a few simple rules to get your therapist to like you more
2. You will then be asked to get changed for your treatment.
If you are receiving a full body deep tissue massage, you will be asked to undress and given a towel to cover yourself with.
Whilst you get changed, the therapist will leave the room to wash their own hands and change into their massage uniform.
You can read more about how far to undress for your deep tissue massage in a dedicated post on the subject. The most important part is to undress to a level that you feel completely comfortable with and to cover yourself with a towel.
Once you are disrobed, your therapist will ask you to lie down on the treatment area (usually face down) and adjust your towel so that you are appropriately covered.
! Tip ! Remember oil stains are hard to remove from clothing so if you do decide to keep some underwear, shorts or even socks on, make sure they are not expensive ones
3. Your deep tissue treatment will begin with a 5 to 10 minute warm up.
During this stage, the therapist will apply softer pressure strokes designed to gently introduce your body to the therapy and warm muscle tissue and skin.
This calm approach also helps ensure clients relax mentally before more intensive techniques are applied.
The exact duration of the warm up depends on the state of your muscles, the room temperature and overall length of treatment booked. An experienced therapist will be able to gauge when your muscle tissue is sufficiently warm to receive deeper pressure.
! Tip ! Although your therapist will perform appropriate massage strokes to warm your muscles, doing a little light stretching beforehand can also help
4. Once the deeper stage of your massage begins, your therapist will use a range of established bodywork techniques to help manipulate soft tissue further.
Some of the most popular and common methods applied in deep tissue therapy include:
- the use of body pressure delivered through the therapist’s palm thereby exerting additional force into tense muscles through a padded medium
- forearm strokes which offer a deep and powerful sweeping motion across whole areas of the body and connective tissue (also known as no-hands massage)
- elbow pressure for highly targeted deep pressure point therapy at specifically tense areas causing pain and discomfort
- barefoot massage techniques (also known as Ashiatsu) which allow the therapist to exert an intense level of pressure using as much as their whole body weight through a small surface area such as the heel of their foot
Want to delve even deeper into the most popular ways to perform this type of therapy? Uncover the secret behind how to do a sacrum push, double-finger press, thumb rolls and more in our 5 best deep tissue techniques explainer.
You can also get some overview information deep tissue massage through this quick reference one-pager.
! Tip ! Two other popular treatment styles which use many of Deep Tissue techniques are Sports Massage and Thai Massage
5. A deep tissue treatment is an intensive muscle workout. It is therefore important to also warm down the body so that it returns to as relaxed a state as possible. This can also aid a speedy recovery from muscle tension issues such as strains.
During this step, the therapist will apply very similar strokes to those used during the warm up stage.
Techniques include longer strokes with a softer pressure designed to soothe both muscles and the mind.
! Tip ! Having a drink after an intensive treatment is a great idea but avoid caffeine based drinks. Good options are a cool cup of water or a herbal tea
6. Once the treatment is over, you will be asked to remain lying down for a few minutes. This lets your body settle and reduces the risk of dizzy spells from suddenly getting up after some intensive therapy.
The therapist may offer you a glass of water and then leave the room to wash their own hands and change back out of their treatment uniform.
! Tip ! Whether you are a therapist performing deep tissue therapy or a customer receiving it, try not to watch the clock too much as it can detracts from the quality and efficacy of therapy
7. Between 24 and 48 hours after your deep tissue massage is over, you may feel some slight aches and pains.
This is nothing to become concerned about, is very common and usually only lasts a day or two. You can learn about why so many people experience such post-massage symptoms in a separate dedicated post.
! Tip ! Some light stretching and drinking lots of water can help post-massage pains disappear more quickly
Finally, it is worth remembering that a single massage session (whether deep tissue or some other style) is unlikely to give more than a temporary feeling of relief and relaxation. For the best results and benefits from deep tissue therapy, we recommend ongoing regular treatments at a rate of one a week if you can afford it but at least once a month.
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