The pressure of deep tissue massage: What do you need?

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You’ve heard the word, you know it’s something ‘nice’ but why do you need it and what is it?

If you’re the sort who likes to leave a massage session with your whole body feeling ‘worked’ (and who doesn’t want that once in a while?), deep tissue massage is a great way to do it. But of all the massage services, says masseuse Rob, deep tissue massage is also brilliant for any chronic, non-sharp aches and pains. It focuses on realigning your deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. ‘It flushes out all the inflammation, lactic acid and toxins that build up in the muscles in our everyday lives,’ he says. But just how deep should your masseuse be going?

Just want to feel ‘worked’?

The body parts that can take the most pressure with a deep tissue massage are your legs, glutes, hips, shoulders and mid back. What needs a lighter touch is your neck, pecs and spine, says massage therapist Rob. No aches or niggles? Go as firm as you like. Tell your masseuse if you can handle a bit more or need less and they’ll adjust to each area of your body.

Stiff neck and upper back

Classic ‘desk neck’ calls for deep tissue massage and trigger point therapy (releasing knots) increasing pressure on certain knots,’ says Rob. Too much pressure on the neck under the wrong circumstances can increase pain post-massage, so your masseuse will use a softer pressure than say, your thighs.

Bad back

Rob says muscular back pain from bad posture is the number one thing he sees. ‘If the pain has been achy or stiff for a few weeks, I’ll use more pressure with the deep tissue massage,’ he says, ‘Because the level of inflammation and irritability has probably decreased’. But acute pain needs lighter treatment in the specific spot, with a firmer pressure on the rest of the body.

Trapped nerve

A trapped nerve needs a soft tissue massage to release surrounding tension. ‘Massaging the surrounding area too will realign the rest of the body,’ masseuse Rob says, ‘which takes pressure of the specific muscles and joints related to the injury.’ It may take two to three deep tissue massage sessions to release the trapped nerve.

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