What is Deep-tissue Acupressure Massage?
Deep tissue massage involves applying firm pressure and slow strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles). It's used for chronic aches and pain and contracted areas such as a stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders.
Acupressure applies the same principles as acupuncture to promote relaxation and wellness and to treat disease. Sometimes called pressure acupuncture, Acupressure is often thought of as simply acupuncture without the needles.
The goal of acupressure or other types of Asian bodywork is to restore health and balance to the body's channels of energy and to regulate opposing forces of yin (negative energy) and yang (positive energy).
Release shoulder-neck tension
Calm and center a scattered mind
Ease digestive tension
Increase mental focus
Lift low spirits
Warm cold, stiff muscles or joints
Ease menstrual tension
Relief of menopausal hot flashes
Low back pain
Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, falls)
Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
Muscle tension in the hamstrings, glutes, IT band, legs, quadriceps, rhomboids, upper ba
What to Expect
Acupressure practitioners use their fingers, palms, elbows, or special devices to apply pressure to acupoints on the body's meridians.
While some of the strokes may feel the same as those used in Swedish massage therapy, deep tissue massage isn't a stronger version of a Swedish massage.
Deep tissue massage techniques are used to break up scar tissue and physically break down muscle "knots" or adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) that can disrupt circulation and cause pain, limited range of motion, and inflammation.
Massage therapists may use fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows, and forearms during a deep tissue massage. You may be asked to breathe deeply as the massage therapist works on tense areas.
After the massage, you may feel some stiffness or soreness, but it should subside within a day or so. Be sure to contact your massage therapist if you have concerns or if you feel pain after having a massage.
Drinking water after the massage may help to flush the metabolic waste from the tissues.
Do Deep Tissue Massages Hurt?
At certain times during the massage, you may feel some discomfort or even some pain as the massage therapist works on areas where there are adhesions or scar tissue. Pain isn't necessarily good, and it's not a sign that the massage will be effective. In fact, your body may tense up in response to pain, making it harder for the therapist to reach deeper muscles.
You should always tell your massage therapist if you feel pain during the massage. The therapist can adjust the technique or further prep the tissues if the superficial muscles are tense.
Side Effects and Precautions
Deep tissue massage may not be safe for people with blood clots (e.g. thrombophlebitis or deep vein thrombosis), due to the risk that they may become dislodged. If you have blood clots or are at risk of forming blood clots, it's essential that you consult your doctor first.
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