Deep tissue massages are the most requested massage therapy services I offer and, in my opinion, one of the most misunderstood and least necessary. Deeper bodywork is not always recommended or better for our bodies. Muscles will not relax more with more pressure. Confused? Let me explain.
What is deep?
First, let’s start with the misconception that Swedish massage is superficial or light and deep tissue is its only alternative. U.S. massage therapy schools, chiropractors, and spas have been falsely explaining these two treatments to their public consumers for decades! Why? Mostly because it makes them more money to offer the work. In anatomy, we learn that deep is a directional term; the bones (and nervous system) are deep to the skin. Deep is not pressure. “Deep,” or more firm pressure, does not mean there is a greater therapeutic effect or muscular benefit. Do you need to slam on the brakes of your car for them to be effective? No, you do not! Let’s remove the familiar, “no pain, no gain,” mentality from beauty and body care right now! No matter how many times you say I cannot; my elbows can hurt you!
What really works
Now, let’s talk about what our bodies really need to benefit from a massage therapy session. We need our nervous system to be contacted, not (just) our muscles. To change the tension in the body, we must change the nervous system telling the body to hold onto that tension. Your muscles will relax when your nervous system tells them to. One of my favorite modalities for this is Ortho-Bionomy; a structural technique that I have studied for many years and have almost 450 hours of education in. It is my most favorite thing to add to every service I offer, even facials!
What does this all mean?
So, what does this new information mean for you as my client? It means you can relax more, and I can give you greater relief! I have 16 years of skin and body therapy education and more certificates, licenses, and certifications than I have fingers and toes; I can give you a great, therapeutic massage session without bruising your “shoulders” (traps)! Will I still use more pressure? Absolutely, if you ask for a firm pressure or if I sense that an area needs it and your body will accept it, my fists and elbows are there for you.
In closing, let’s make your future sessions a conversation and not an hour designed around a service created with misinformation. The best thing that we can do as busy humans is make time to decompress from the stress of our daily lives and relax more. Self-care will save us so much time and health in the long-run.
Up next: why you should never limit a massage session to just one area of the body.
Questions or comments? I look forward to hearing from you!