Deep Tissue Massage, What You Really Need to Know

Deep Tissue Massage

What is a deep tissue massage?

Deep tissue massage is a massage technique which targets the inner layers of muscles and connective tissue. Using a combination of deep, slow, and rhythmic pressure or friction, the technique allows your massage therapist to target specific areas with a much deeper pressure than other massage techniques. Why is the pressure necessary you may ask? So, they can release a build-up of tension, tightness, or pain, held deep within the muscle and connective tissue.

Typically, a deep tissue massage treatment will last for 50 or 80 minutes. After a thorough consultation and check of contra-indications, to establish the underlying medical condition they may be treating, your massage therapist will explain the technique they will be using and the specific areas they will target.

From your consultation and symptom analysis, your massage therapist may recommend a deep tissue massage, to treat a specific symptom, should it be beneficial to protect, maintain, or assist in restoration of your health. By using moderate pressure in specific health conditions, deep tissue massages can be applied to target upper limb pain, rheumatoid arthritis, knee osteoarthritis with an
outcome of less stiffness and enhanced function. Conditions such as fibromyalgia, can benefit from deep tissue massage by its ability to decrease pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance too. Muscular pain and tension within the body, will benefit from regular deep tissue massage immediately after treatment, however the results in long term improved muscle health, mobility, mental and physical health is maximised too.

A deep tissue massage has historically been used to target symptoms of pain, most commonly in the back, neck, shoulders, buttocks, and legs. If you think of areas of the body with large muscle mass which are under duress daily, then this is more likely the “hot spots” where you experience primary areas of discomfort, regular pain, and need assistance in restoring health. Problematic areas can be
confined to a specific muscle or group. Yet, stress and anxiety can also lead to tension within muscles. Again, traditionally you may have believed that Swedish Massage or massage for relaxation would have been the answer, however deep tissue massage has been proven in its efficacy in helping to release tension from the body.

What happens during a deep tissue massage?

Prior to receiving your massage, your massage therapist will want to gain information about your problematic areas, establish underlying medical
conditions and what impacts your health. When it started, how it started, what you have tried to alleviate the pain. They will also want to know about mobility levels, frequency of pain, and whether you are currently taking any medication. The more information you give to your massage therapist, the more bespoke your deep tissue massage will be, in order to help safeguard, manage and re-establish health, which equates to the best massage for you! A deep tissue massage can be focused over the entire body or to a particularly troublesome area.

The main benefits of deep tissue massage include:

There are multiple conditions the deep tissue massage targets, manages, and treats.

Chronic pain in the lower back or neck stiffness. Fibromyalgia, osteoarthritic pain can readily be treated, it can even assist in decreasing the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

When muscular tension causes chronic pain, this can also be lessened with deep tissue massage, as the excessively tight connective tissue is worked on and starts to loosen, the tightness causing pain is reduced.

Deep Tissue massage has been proven to be more effective at relieving the symptoms of chronic pain, than some medications or medical treatments. On the plus side, it tends to be more cost-effective too, saving your wallet from tension too!

Pain relief – Whether it is a new sports injury, a reoccurring injury, or potentially post operative pain from which you are suffering. Deep tissue massage can help. Living with Sciatica, a decreased range of motion or mobility issues, regular deep tissue massage can bring about pain relief. Massage is powerful and can assist you to live a better life.

Those who suffer from systematic pain, from medical conditions recognise how debilitating everyday pain is. Conditions such as arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, where pain, joint stiffness, a limited range of motion and decreased mobility can affect not only your daily routine, but it can also disturb sleep too. Deep tissue massage therapy can be used to treat the many varying symptoms of an individual and improve sleep as it can help to control, shield, and revive health.

Use of moderate pressure and manipulation throughout a deep tissue massage for those suffering from medical conditions, deep tissue massage can help to reduce arthritic pain, ease tension, and improve general movement by alleviating pain which can disrupt a good night’s sleep.

Experiencing regular deep tissue massage improves the bodies lymphatic circulation and drainage system, which is particularly beneficial to those who have scar tissue. People who suffer from scar tissue, when the skin replaces tissue with fibrous tissue usually after an injury to the body, whether it be skin deep or within the body from an operation as an example, often report pain and stiffness in those specific areas.

Through regular deep tissue massage and the improvement in the lymphatic system, both in circulation and drainage, can help to improve the flexibility and the range of motion in areas previously hindered by scar tissue.

People who are in post operative recovery are both advised and encouraged to experience regular deep tissue massage to minimise the scar tissue and keep the area mobile whilst the body heals. Through its manipulation and assistance in the breaking up of scar tissue, regular deep tissue massage can help to release the tension at the source of a scar. As tight fascia become looser, they promote greater flexibility within the area affected. Hence, it’s beneficial to anyone who suffers with large, visible scarring.

Now you may not be a triathlete or entering the next Olympics! Yet if you exercise, whether that be a walk with the dog, a play in the park with your children/grandchildren, whether your exercise be regular or a little infrequent, activity and sports related injuries can be commonplace. Athletes tend to use deep tissue massage as both preventative medicine as well as part of the recovery protocol and curative curb for when injury hits.

Used to both postpone the onset of sore muscles, ease muscle fatigue and prevent injury. A muscle which has been twisted, or over stretched, deep tissue massage can help assuage the pain. If you have injured muscles, deep tissue massage therapy can help stretch tight or twisted muscles and can also facilitate the movement or build-up of acid from your muscles. Whether that be a recent or long-standing sports injury. Re-occurring or repetitive injuries, medical conditions such as bouts of sciatica or rheumatoid arthritis pain deep tissue massage may assist with the protection, maintenance, and restoration of well-being.

The increase in blood flow stimulated by a deep tissue massage works to help reduce inflammation and promote faster healing of injuries.
Improved flexibility from regular deep tissue massage, whilst it aims to improve the range of movement in tight muscles, it is also believed to assist with enhancing performance and safer future workouts as the muscles have improved extension and mobility.

In today’s fast paced lifestyle and era of cultural stress, deep tissue massage offers a respite, by reducing stress and tension, which impacts blood pressure. Massage can have positive impact on systolic, diastolic, and arterial blood pressure. Deep tissue massage can also help to increase production of serotonin, the body’s hormone which promotes a “feel-good” mood, regulates anxiety, and helps memory (and that’s just in the brain!) Within the body itself this imperative chemical and neurotransmitter also aids appetite and digestion, as well as sleep, to name key
benefits. Studies have shown that massage can help to lower your blood pressure.

Whether it be your partner, family, work-life balance, a specific situation, or something more. Regular deep tissue massage is a great stress reliever, whether it be a regular weekly or monthly massage treatment. Although a release of cortisol is the body’s natural trigger and way of dealing with stressful situations thrown to us in life, too much of a good thing can be bad for our health! We need cortisol for our metabolism as it helps to control the way our body uses fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. However, consistently high, or prolonged levels of cortisol in the body can impair cognitive performance, create blood sugar imbalances, decrease bone density, and affect sleep. 

Deep tissue massage helps to reduce cortisol levels, whilst increasing levels of oxytocin, the hormone which reduces pain and anxiety, promotes well-being. It even promotes interaction and bonding with others – no wonder we all love our expert massage therapists!

The soothing effects we experience during a deep tissue massage can also help with physical symptoms of stress – tight muscles, tension headaches, decrease migraine frequency and ease symptoms of depression. A deep tissue massage addresses multiple issues, whilst it helps your body to relax by boosting the bodies release of feel-good hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins, to ensure you feel calm, in control and ready to face life.

The conclusion? Regular deep tissue massage offers both essential physical and psychological benefits to health, having the ability to target medical conditions and address specific symptom concerns. Other massage techniques may focus solely on relaxation. Deep tissue massage helps treats muscle pain, mobility issues, and joint stiffening. It can improve the immune system, help with rehabilitation, and improve sleep patterns. At the same time, it helps you to unwind emotionally too.

Are there any side effects?

During your consultation, your massage therapist will also want to know your medical history to identify any underlying medical conditions and may ask you questions such as:

  • Do you have a history of blood clots or a clotting disorder?
  • Are you or have you taken blood thinners?
  • Do you have a bleeding disorder?
  • Do you suffer with osteoporosis?
  • Are you at an increased risk of injury, such as bone fractures?
  • Do you have, or have you suffered from a nerve injury?
  • Has your maturing into older age impacted your bone density noticeably?
  • Have you had any recent surgery or chemotherapy in recent weeks or years?
  • Do you suffer from any open skin wounds or skin conditions?
  • Have you got or a history of a hernia?
  • Do you currently have cancer, or have you had cancer?

Even if you suffer with a medical condition and believe deep tissue massage may not be the treatment for you for fear of side effects it may cause. 99% of customers who walk into The Massage Company Treatment Centres receive a massage.

Master’s at providing expert massage to conserve, cultivate, and renovate health whilst making adaptations to a treatment for those with a specific medical condition. You can always raise any questions or queries, at your time of booking, prior to consultation.

When should deep tissue massage be avoided?

If your pregnant or post-partum other styles of maternity massage may be recommended by your massage therapist as a more suitable option for you too.

If your taking medication that increases the risk of blood clots or deep vein thrombosis, then avoid deep tissue massage therapy. However other massage recommendations may be made by your expert therapist.

Deep tissue massage therapy, considered to be safe, however with it is use of very firm pressure and manipulation, a deep tissue massage, may not be the best option for you or your medical condition. Your knowledgeable massage therapist is an expert in their field, ask them for recommendations as to what type of massage is best for you!

Once the treatment has been explained, you will be given direction by your massage therapist as to what underwear to leave on, where to place your clothes, whether to lie on the couch face up or down. Modesty is vital, you will be covered by a sheet throughout the entire deep tissue massage treatment and only the area of the body being worked on will be exposed at any one time.

Do not worry, your massage therapist does not jump right in! Before deep tissue massage manipulation, the targeted muscle group will be warmed up first. Letting your body know that they are there, your massage therapist is likely to use more effleurage style or lighter pressure sweeping massage strokes with a lighter touch. Once warmed and prepped your massage therapist will start to work on the problematic areas concerned. This is when the much deeper, kneading, manipulative style of massage will begin.

Pressure during the deep tissue massage when your therapist is releasing the tension held within the muscle or connective tissue may feel like they’re right inside the muscle! Your massage therapist will check about the intensity of pressure they are using throughout the massage to ensure you’re comfortable (or slightly uncomfortable – but in a good sense!)

We’re all different, for some after a deep tissue massage they experience a little tenderness (which is a good sign that your muscles are starting on the road to recovery!) For others, they’re straight off the massage couch to carry on with their day, whether it be a shopping day, collecting the kids from school, walking the dog, or heading back to work with a spring in their step.

What do I need to know before getting a deep tissue massage?

How to Prepare for a Deep Tissue Massage

Research where to go: Ensure your treatment is booked with a reputable company who are trusted for their expertise. With massage centres around the UK, opening hours that fit around your lifestyle, and expert therapists, The Massage Company make a great centre choice

Check for industry leading credentials: The Massage Company employ only expert therapists who have transited their own accredited training academy. Have peace of mind, with the knowledge that their massage therapists are trained to the highest standard, ensuring the massage recommendation they provide, will benefit your physical health, emotional health, and medical requirements.

Prepare relevant health information for the therapist: To offer you the best possible treatment outcome, you need to disclose a full medical history to your therapist. The more detail, specific information about your health and lifestyle you give them, ensures they can provide you with a truly targeted deep tissue massage for maximum benefits.

Drink water: Pre and post deep tissue massage treatment, stay hydrated.

What to wear: With your modesty always protected at The Massage Company (underwear always remains in place). Whether it be your work attire, your favourite exercise outfit, or your new dress to meet your friends for lunch, use of a rapidly absorbing lotion for all massage therapy at The Massage Company, means you can head straight out after your deep tissue massage. No need to head home for a shower to remove residue oil first!

Why choose a deep tissue massage?

Deep tissue massage benefits are widespread. FACT! If you suffer from stress, anxiety, even tension headaches. Deep tissue massage is not just for the physical pain, its beneficial for emotional wellness too. From labour pain management to treating cancer patients. Whether you’re an athlete or someone with a more sedentary lifestyle, depression, PTSD, boosting your immune system the list goes on… deep tissue massage has benefits for everyone. 

In a recent BBC health series, massage was looked at as a therapy to boost your immune system.
Article: BBC Two – Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, Series 8, Episode 5 – Could massage boost your immune system?

When we are stressed and anxious, we carry excess tension within the body, this can cause us to alter our posture, tense muscles, and cause a stiffening of the joints or decreased mobility. Many believe that pure relaxation massage is the best type of massage for stress, yet deep tissue massage can be beneficial too, as it unlocks the bodies built up tension. While physically it helps to reduce the muscle stiffness and fatigue. Deep tissue massage targets both your physical and emotional wellbeing.

A deep tissue massage will focus on troublesome areas, the ones which cause you the most pain and discomfort. Many of us will experience some form of upper body pain, whether it be in the back, neck, shoulder, or arms. For others it may be the lower half of the body which would benefit more from a deep tissue massage. Legs, buttocks, even feet can benefit from a deep tissue massage.

By targeting areas of discomfort, in conditions such as plantar fasciitis, where the pain is caused though overuse. There is inflammation of the connective tissue which supports the arch of the foot and links the heel bone to the toes, deep tissue massage will focus on this area of discomfort and manipulate the connective tissue. By releasing tension, assisting in the break-up of scar tissue, and improving circulation whist working on the heel and arch of the foot. By focusing on such a specific area, deep tissue massage is an effective way to reduce and manage pain, helping to prevent future foot complications!

Work your way up the body to the arms, and many conditions classically associated with racquet sports, (tennis elbow does not just affect those who play tennis by the way!) Golfers elbow, in fact any repetitive strain injuries or simply over extension or flexion will benefit from deep tissue
massage too. By using the increased and targeted pressure throughout your deep tissue massage, it can assist in reducing or helping to alleviate the soreness, tenderness, and imbalance in that specific area.

Diverse types of deep tissue massage

Trust your therapist and the extensive knowledge that they have. Once they have all your particulars, they can start a comprehensive massage plan for your specific needs.

Classic massage or Swedish massage techniques all use elements of deep tissue massage, and vice versa as your deep tissue massage commences, your therapist is warming up the muscle, muscle group or connective tissue. They are prepping your body for the deeper, firmer, and more specific manipulations of the muscle and tissue to follow. A cross-over of differing techniques are frequently used.

Expectations, goals, and long-term plans will all be discussed with you by your therapist before they even lay a hand on you. Think about what you realistically want to achieve from your deep tissue massage sessions, and which areas are the most troublesome and problematic for you before you go for your massage. Consider regular massage therapy, whether it be every month or twice a week, The Massage Company offers flexible massage treatments in multiple locations, so even if you’re away travelling on business, or headed to visit family in another county, your massage doesn’t need to fall to the wayside. Your health, physical and mental wellbeing, never needs to be put on hold.

What to do after a deep tissue massage?

You have invested your time and money into your well-being, to maximise the benefits after treatment, consider this:

Drink plenty of fluids: Drink lots of water pre and post a deep tissue massage to stay hydrated.

Make tasty food choices: Eat something healthy if you feel a bit peckish after a deep tissue massage treatment. It is quite normal to feel that your body requires a little top up of fuel. A healthy fruit salad, nutritious superfood salad with protein, or power packed nuts are great choices.

Soak the day away: If you are feeling a little tender after your muscles have been manipulated taking a warm bath can help. If a specific area feels tender, then an ice pack could be your go-to after massage treat! Your massage therapist will advise of any aftercare specific for you.

We’re all unique, for some it will mean taking time out and well-deserved R&R after a deep tissue massage, if you crave a nap, then take five to rest and relax. If you feel energised and ready to head into work, out for a stroll with the dog or a few hours with the grandchildren in the park – then go for it!

Deep Tissue Massage FAQs

Deep tissue massage can help both your physical and emotional state. From joint pain and mobility, to breaking down scar tissue. Helping to lower high blood pressure, arthritic conditions, as well as chronic muscle tension can all be helped through regular deep tissue massage.
In short, No! Can you experience tenderness during and after deep tissue massage therapy? Yes! Communication is vital during your treatment with your therapist so they know your tolerance levels and what level of manipulation they can channel into your deep tissue massage treatment.
Most would say at least every four weeks, however what condition you want treating, how severe the injury or muscular tension is, is very individual and your therapist may advise you require treatment as frequently as three times per week. Be led by their expertise and review your treatment plan frequently with them.
Yes, deep tissue massage is safe, but it may not be the best treatment for you. If you are pregnant, suffer from extreme hypertension or are currently undergoing treatment for a condition which requires medication, it is imperative to disclose these conditions to your therapist and check through all contra-indications prior to treatment, to assess if a deep tissue massage is the best massage therapy for you.

Remind me why I want to book a deep tissue massage?

It’s a centuries old therapy, millions turn to deep tissue massage every day to improve their mental and physical health. It’s been proven to have health benefits to both mind and body. In the first 50 minutes of a deep tissue massage, you can start to decrease pain which you may have been impaired by for years.

*In meta-analysis studies where massage verses inactive therapies and medication for neck and shoulder pain, the analysis suggested that massage therapy yielded greater pain reduction.

*For knee and arthritic pain sufferers, studies show a combination of massage and exercise led to a greater improvement that exercise alone.

*The use of massage within labour pain management, demonstrated a reduction of the pain experienced, the need for medication, and a decrease of up to 5 hours spent in labour.

*In studies of those with foot pain, where ultrasound therapy was trialled against massage therapy, those participants experiencing massage therapy had lower pain and reported a greater functional activity after massage treatment.

For a great deep tissue massage experience, visit our pioneering high street brand that’s bringing massage to the mainstream! At the Massage Company we have centres around the UK. In a marketplace where there are many providing massage treatments, we stand out due to our unique philosophy, passion for people’s health and well-being, as well as continuous staff development at our own National Training Academy. You know you are in safe hands when you book your massage therapy treatment with us.

*Information sourced from Massage therapy research review – PMC (

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