The primary goal of deep tissue massage is to reduce pain and discomfort, while improving the body’s ability to heal itself. Deep tissue massages are not only relaxing — they also help “lengthen and release muscles” that frequently feel tense and get stuck in uncomfortable holding patterns. (1) Let’s explore what, exactly, deep tissue massage is and all the ways it can benefit your body and mind.
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Deep tissue massage uses many of the same movements and techniques as a more classic superficial massage. The difference is that the pressure will generally be more intense, and concentrated on areas of tension and pain. The strokes are the same, but the movement is slower and deeper. At certain points during the massage, most people find there is usually some discomfort and pain. It is important to tell the therapist when they hit a tender spot and if any discomfort you experience is outside your comfort range. Due to the focused nature of the session, the treatment can become intense at times.
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Since deep tissue massage is designed to work on the deep layers of tissue in the body, it also has an impact on your blood flow. In 2008, a study was conducted with 263 volunteers with an average age of 48.5 years who were suffering from moderate or severe muscle strain. Each patient was given a deep tissue massage for 45-60 minutes. Blood pressure readings showed a dip when compared to readings taken before the massage indicating that deep tissue massage has a positive impact on lowering blood pressure.1 Though the exact mechanism of how this happens needs more study, you could use deep tissue massage as part of a holistic approach to treating hypertension.