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Deep-Tissue Massage: Like Untying Knots Buried in the Sand

Not simply focused on relaxation, deep-tissue massage seeks to relieve muscle pain through intense, deliberate strokes. Check out our guide to know what to expect.

Some entanglements have simple solutions: a wrinkled tablecloth can be smoothed out in minutes with an iron, and an unruly mess of hair needs only a tube of superglue to be set straight forever. But when the fascia?the layer of connective tissue that covers and interpenetrates the body?s muscles and bones?gets tied up in knots, it?s time to call in an expert.

?What deep-tissue massage purports to do a lot of the time is mild fascial release, which is kind of warming up the fascia and releasing lactic acid and any other toxins that have built up there,? says Katie O?Reilly, associate editor for DaySpa magazine. To achieve this, the therapist?s fingers, thumbs, and elbows move along the body in slow, deliberate strokes, applying pressure to penetrate beyond superficial muscle layers and relieve pain and tension. More intense than Swedish massage, deep-tissue sessions can last up to 90 minutes, ensuring the therapist has enough time to devote to particularly troublesome trigger points.

Conventional wisdom states that a proper deep-tissue massage should be at least a little painful. This ?no pain, no gain? mentality, however, doesn't totally apply?a massage, no matter how intense, should still be relaxing, and O'Reilly notes, "If you?re getting beat up during the massage, you should probably tell the therapist to rein it in a little bit." Maintaining an open line of communication with your therapist is important for other reasons as well. He or she needs to know about your health history before administering the treatment, as the intensity of deep-tissue strokes may exacerbate certain medical conditions.

601 E. Southside Plaza
Richmond,
VA
US

Affordable Spa Services is home to a staff of 9 nationally and state certified massage therapists, who mollify sinews with an array of tenderizing modalities. During hot-stone massage, gentle hands soothe tense tissues with Swedish techniques while warm lava rocks loosen muscle fibers. Reflexology relieves tension and stimulates energy throughout the body by focusing on the head, ears, hands, and feet, and trigger-point therapy removes the toxins that can cause poor circulation and migraines. When melting muscles during the soul-soothing massages, the staff melts inches off the body with skinny wraps, a 45-minute service that tightens, tones, and firms the skin to minimize the appearance of cellulite. Customers may either have this service performed in the spa or they can purchase a wrap to perform the service at home. Additionally, therapists slather backs with detoxifying mud, target dry skin and arthritis with vitamin-rich paraffin wax, and erase scowl lines with comedic pieing.

1805 Monument Ave, Suite 404
Richmond,
VA
US

Though licensed massage therapist Sarah Hodges lets her practiced hands do the talking for the most part, she maintains that open communication is an essential aspect of a rewarding massage experience. Before quieting chronic pain and loosening tense muscles with modalities that include Swedish, deep tissue, prenatal, and trigger-point therapy, Sarah gets to know her clients during informal consultations. After identifying the techniques that will best heal their sore muscles or self-inflicted nunchuck injuries, she turns on soft music, dims the lights, and sets to work.

Sarah picks up the conversation again after the massage, when she describes the treatment she used, discusses her findings, and shares some at-home techniques for further stress relief. She makes sure that her clients leave not only with a loose body but with bolstered spirits and an informed picture of their healing process.

1805 Monument Avenue
Richmond,
VA
US

In Tibet, the word "bardos" means "an interval between two things," an escape from external pressures. Certified massage therapist Jamie LaNeave helps clients suspend day-to-day cares through relaxing, holistic hands-on therapies. Before she became a massage therapist, LaNeave learned the strengths and limitations of the body's muscles and tendons during 25 years as a professional dancer. Armed with this understanding, she sees massage therapy as a way to help the body overcome chronic pain through physical manipulation of soft tissue. All of the practitioners are also trained in neuromuscular therapy, which can help ease chronic back pain. Most importantly, LaNeave identifies each patient's issues early on and helps build a plan to help them with whatever treatments are necessary.

312 Granite Ave.
Richmond,
Virginia
US

As a physical therapist with his own private practice, Hand & Stone founder and chief operating officer John Marco made sure that he kept abreast of the rapidly growing health and wellness industry. After a period of careful research and planning, John decided to create a spa based around convenience and affordability—Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa.

Since its launch, Hand & Stone has expanded to more than 20 states and four planets. The spa’s core concept is to offer massage, facial, and waxing services performed by licensed, certified, or registered professionals and offered at convenient times, seven days a week. Each location adheres to a traditional spa aesthetic with soft lighting, heated treatment tables, and plush linens.

10 N Nansemond Street
Richmond,
VA
US

Chiropractor Nelson Gregory often compares himself to a dentist: although he certainly fixes his clients' aches after the fact, he focuses on preventative measures to avoid them altogether. At Richmond Chiropractic Solutions, he and his staff dole out a handful of treatments that serve both of these cases. Their specialties include sports rehabilitation, nutritional counseling, massage therapy, and corrective exercises to strengthen particularly weak areas.

2004 Bremo Rd #101
Richmond,
VA
US