Muscle illness, injury and prolonged immobility can cause muscle and the muscle-encasing facia to become stiff, hardened or stuck to adjacent structures causing pain and impaired muscle function. These stressed and damaged muscle can block nutrients and oxygen from being released and taken up by surrounding muscles resulting in inflammation and buildup of toxin.
Deep tissue massage is a technique that involves strong pressure exerted by the therapist in order to penetrate to these deep muscles and facia. The benefits of this technique are multiple. Deep tissue massage can break up scar tissue from older injuries. This form of massage releases the build up of toxin associated with pain, stress and inflammation. With the release of toxin, blood and oxygen can be released throughout the body. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that deep tissue massage reduces stress hormone levels, decreases heart rate and boosts mood by releasing oxytoxcin and serotonin.
What should you expect when receiving a deep tissue massage? The therapist typically uses knuckles, fists, elbows and forearms when applying pressure to muscle groups. The pace tends to be slower than that of other massage techniques so the therapist can obtain a sense of problem areas and subsequently apply careful and sensitive pressure to achieve a comfortable and lasting muscle release. Deep tissue massage, however, may cause temporary or delayed-onset of soreness and tenderness because of the release of toxins like lactic acid. Patients are expected to properly hydrate before and after a massage flush out these toxins. Stretching before and after a massage will also help reduce soreness and speed recovery and muscle function. Furthermore, a good way to recover is to soak in a warm bath with epsom salts - a salt that draws out the toxins and promotes muscle recovery. Icing persistent painful areas is also recommended.