Before you receive any massage you should ensure that you are fully prepared. There are many things you should consider when looking at how to prepare for a deep tissue massage and also what to do once you have received it.
A deep tissue massage differs from a regular massage in a number of ways.
Deep Tissue Massage
A deep tissue massage is an intense massage which is usually focussed on one area where there is pain. It is very different to a Swedish massage and you may find that you need a few sessions to resolve your problem.
While a Swedish massage is aimed at relaxation, a deep tissue massage is aimed at healing. A deep tissue massage will use techniques which get deep in to the muscles and tissues to release any knots or stiffness. This in turn should help reduce or get rid of pain, depending on the reason you are having the massage.
The techniques used can reduce pain and inflammation and help improve the range and motion of tight muscles, and in doing this it improves blood circulation around the muscles. It also releases toxins in to the body and your practitioner will tell you what to do to help flush these out.
The strokes used will be deeper and harder and the practitioner will apply more pressure. The strokes can go with the muscle grain or against it and this will be tailored to your individual problem.
Reasons for having a deep tissue massage
Deep tissue massage is often given where there is muscle pain or a muscle related health condition, but it can be incorporated into a normal massage too. A medical practitioner can sometimes recommend a deep tissue massage or a qualified practitioner will be able to tell you whether or not a deep tissue massage will work for you.
This type of massage can help with:
- Chronic pain, such as that caused by fibromyalgia
- Muscle injuries, such as sports injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow and whiplash
- Muscle strain, spasms or tension
If you have an ongoing medical condition which causes pain, a deep tissue massage cannot heal that, but it can help to control the pain.
A qualified practitioner will ask you about your medical history before starting your deep tissue massage, and there are some conditions which they need to know about as extra care will need to be taken, or they may tell you that you cannot have your massage at all. If you have a condition which means they cannot help you, they will explain why.
Some conditions which may affect your suitability for deep tissue massage are:
- Fractures, arthritis, osteoarthritis or anything which affects your bones.
- Unexplained pain
- Blood clots or bruising
- Pregnancy or nursing a baby, but also check with your medical practitioner before booking your massage
How to prepare for a deep tissue massage
The first time you have a deep tissue massage, you may experience some temporary pain or discomfort, which is why you should be properly prepared. Here are just a few tips so you can be ready for your massage.
- If you’ve never had this type of massage before, ask around to find a reputable practitioner. If you know they are qualified and recommended by someone you know, you will feel more comfortable about visiting them. The right practitioner will take on board everything you tell them and tailor your massage to your own needs.
- Make a note of everything you think you need to tell your practitioner so that you are prepared and you know you will not forget anything. This includes making a note of any medical conditions you may have and any medication you are taking. Make notes about your pain including where it is, whether or not it spreads to other areas of the body and anything you do which makes it better or worse.
- As with any massage, don’t eat a big or heavy meal before you go. Not only does a deep tissue massage involve quite a lot of pressure, but it releases toxins, so if you have too much to eat you may suffer indigestion or other digestive problems. A light snack an hour or two before your massage is fine.
- Keep yourself hydrated on the day of your massage. This will help you when you come to flush out the toxins and it will make your muscles more pliable so your practitioner will be able to work on them easier.
- For any massage, you need to be relaxed and a deep tissue massage is no exception. Leave home early so you can arrive in good time. It’s much better to arrive so that you have time to fill out any paperwork and then relax, rather than to rush in the door and go straight in to your massage. If you feel anxious at all your muscles will be tense, so try some deep breathing exercises to help calm you down.
- If you can, have a shower before you go. This not only relaxes you, but the warmth of the shower will help to relax your muscles.
- Wear clothes you feel comfortable in, or loose fitting clothing. You won’t be expected to undress as you would for a Swedish massage, but your practitioner will need to be able to get to the muscles they are working on. If you wear tight clothing this may make it difficult, and if your clothes are tight, you may not feel quite as relaxed. After your massage you may feel uncomfortable, so loose clothing will be easier for you to wear.
What to expect
Your first appointment may be spent going through your medical history and assessing your current problem. The practitioner will need to work out how bad your pain is and where it is centred so they know where to work and what sort of massage you will need.
Depending where your pain is, you will either lie or sit on a massage table. Your practitioner will choose a position which is comfortable for you and which allows them the room they need to work on your muscles. You will not need to undress and your practitioner will either work through your clothes if they are thin, or move them out of the way while they work.
When you are comfortable you practitioner will then use a number of techniques to stimulate the tissues and muscles. These include:
- Stripping. This is done using the elbow, thumbs, knuckles or even forearms. It uses a gliding action to get deep in to the muscles, but uses a harder pressure than a normal massage.
- Friction. This can be uncomfortable as the practitioner will apply pressure across the grain of the muscle, and this helps to release any knots.
Your practitioner will use a combination of fingertips, hands, knuckles and elbows, depending how deep they need to get in to your muscles, and any discomfort you feel should not last long.
When the massage is over, you may be asked to sit for a few minutes before you get up. You may feel a little dizzy and it also allows the muscles to settle.
After your massage
A deep tissue massage will not leave you feeling relaxed, so to get the full benefit of it, you should pay attention to what you are told to do by your practitioner. Everyone reacts differently, but these tips will help you.
- After your massage you may feel some pain or discomfort. This is normal, so don’t feel worried, but make sure you tell your practitioner on your next visit. Any muscle pain you feel should gradually ease, and you can take painkillers to help it as well. In some cases your practitioner may suggest you use an ice pack to ease the pain.
- During your massage, toxins will be released so you will need to flush them out of your system. Drink plenty of fluids when you get home to do this.
- Try to relax after your massage if you can. This helps the muscles which have been treated to relax and helps ease the pain. It also helps the healing process so you will get the full benefit of your massage. If you go straight back to work or go for a workout, you could cause the muscles to tense back up again.
- Don’t have a heavy meal too soon after your massage. Allow your body to relax and recover for an hour or so.
Everyone has a different experience when they go for a deep tissue massage. Usually several treatments are needed to resolve any pain issues, and you should always allow time for your body to recover before you go for your next massage. Your practitioner should advise you how long you should leave it between treatments, so be guided by them.