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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.
Deep-Tissue Massage: Like Untying Knots Buried in the Sand
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.
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“I had a deep tissue massage and she did an excellent job. I've had hundreds of massages and this was one of the best. 20 years of experience and it was great.”
“Great customer relations. Seemed very knowledgeable and able to work on issues with your body. Best massage I have had in a while!”