For mind, body & soul

What is a Deep Tissue Massage?

A deep tissue massage is a particular massage technique that uses slow strokes and sustained pressure to target the inner layers of muscles, deep below the surface. It’s used primarily to treat musculoskeletal problems and to aid recovery from vigorous physical activity or sports injuries, but it also has wider applications that can improve the body, mind and soul of anyone receiving the treatment.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at all the benefits deep tissue massages have to offer, the types of treatment available, the most common side effects to consider, and the treatments on offer at your nearest Champneys spa.
 

Where did deep tissue massage originate?

Some historians believe that the history of deep tissue massage can be traced all the way back to Ancient Egypt. But in more modern times, it was first commonly used in the 19th century, when Canadian doctors used the technique to treat sufferers of whiplash. From there, the technique spread into the United States, where it gained real popularity when promoted in the book ‘Muscles: Your Invisible Bonds’, published in 1949.

Today, it’s now a commonly used practice by masseurs, therapists and sports scientists all over the world, to aid the condition and recovery of the muscles that help us move around and stay active every day.
Revive & rejuvenate

What are the benefits of deep tissue massage?

It’s easy to think that deep tissue massage benefits are limited to rejuvenating or repairing tired and strained muscles. But that’s only part of the story: a good treatment can help you feel great from head to toe, inside and out.

Stress relief

Deep tissue massages help reduce stress in two ways: they stimulate the release of hormones that naturally relax the body, and they’re also a good opportunity to unwind in a quiet, peaceful environment.
 

Pain reduction

Chronic pain is relieved by deep tissue massage treatment, as it releases the underlying tension within the muscles, particularly in the neck and back; massages can in some cases be more effective than medical intervention in these areas.
 

Lower blood pressure and heart rate

The reduced tension that deep tissue massage provides leads to a natural reduction in blood pressure, also leading to a reduction in heart rate.
 

Breaking up scar tissue & easier movement

Improved circulation means that deep tissue massages can ease the localised stiffness and pain that can often affect scar tissue, and ensure that movement isn’t as badly restricted in that particular area.
 

Reduced arthritis symptoms

All of the above benefits can be transformative for arthritis sufferers: less tension, relieved pain, ease of movement (especially in joints), and as a result, improved sleep patterns.
 

Rehabilitate injured muscles

Deep tissue massages stretch out muscles to their fullest extent, removing any tightness from them, and also releasing the toxins that can weigh them down and make them feel tired.
Massage methods

Common deep tissue massage techniques

There are several different techniques that masseurs and masseuses can adopt when targeting deep tissue, depending on the preferences of the person being treated, and the desired end result. These include (but are not necessarily limited to):

Effleurage

Strokes are applied in a long, smooth, gliding motion, and the masseur will vary the speed and intensity up and down over the course of the treatment. This lengthens and stretches out the muscles to reduce tension.

Petrissage

Deep pressure is applied by the masseur kneading the skin with the palms of their hands to put particular focus on one area of the body.

Tapotement

Perhaps one of the most well-known massage techniques, this is the rapid and repeated hitting of the body with hands to loosen up muscles that are stiff.

Friction

Specific tightness and knots can be released through friction, applied by the masseur in a circular motion using their fingers and thumbs.

Vibration

The vibration technique presses and releases muscles up and down, in order to break up any tension or muscle habits that prevent free movement.

Cross fibre friction

This more advanced technique involves the stroking of an affected area hard enough to generate some friction, and is principally used in the recovery of more serious muscular injuries.

Active release technique

Those who have suffered repeated muscle injuries often find this beneficial: it involves deep pressure being held on an affected area while the muscle tightens and loosens again and again.

Trigger point therapy

Smaller pain points can be relieved of tension through the constant application and release of deep pressure through the masseur’s fingers.

Myofascial massage

Using closed fists and knuckles to apply pressure in different areas is hugely beneficial in releasing tension long-term, although it can cause some initial soreness immediately afterwards.

Common side effects of deep tissue massage

It’s worth noting that, as deep tissue massage can be a relatively intensive treatment, there can be some side effects. Of course, how people are affected will vary from one person to the next, but it’s worth bearing the following in mind:

Lingering pain
As the massage vigorously stimulates the muscles, it is common to experience feelings of pain during or immediately after treatment. These should subside within a few days, but in rare cases where it continues beyond that, consulting a doctor may be advisable.

Muscle aches or fatigue
Working through the muscles means they will be very relaxed, and then may feel fatigued or cause aches. As with the lingering pain above, these symptoms should dissipate within a few days.

Headaches or migraines
Occasionally, people suffer headaches or migraines after a treatment. This could be caused by the head sitting at an unusual position during the massage, or the treatment taking place close to the head (i.e. in the neck or at the top of the back).

Feeling of fatigue or sleepiness
The high levels of relaxation that a massage can stimulate means it’s easy to feel tired or sleepy afterwards, but after a good night’s sleep, most people feel fine again.

Inflammation of treatment area
A sustained focus on one particular area of the body during treatment means it can become inflamed, but this can be treated with light pain relief or even just applying ice.

Skin heat or redness
Similar to the above point, the skin between the muscle and the masseur’s hands can easily become hot and red during treatment, although this does suggest that the muscles beneath are getting the stretching they need.

Nausea
With so many toxins being flushed out of the body, feeling nauseous is a natural and understandable symptom, easily treated by drinking plenty of water afterwards.

Bruising
Bruising is unusual, and unless you bruise especially easily, shouldn’t really happen if the massage is administered properly. If you’re worried about bruising, make sure you discuss it with your masseur before they begin the treatment.

Aggravation of old injuries
If you have underlying injuries from the past, a deep tissue massage can affect those areas again. Ensure your masseur is aware of any of these problems before starting treatment, so that they can handle those areas with care.

Book your deep tissue massage at a Champneys health spa

Whatever you want to get out of a deep tissue massage, and whatever the part of the body you want to get treatment for, you’ll find the perfect solution for you at your nearest Champneys spa.

Every one of our six locations around the UK offers a comprehensive range of deep tissue massage treatments, delivered by some of the finest and most experienced masseurs and masseuses in the country. Most of our treatments last 50 minutes, meaning your body and muscles get the focus and attention they deserve. As you’ll be in a luxurious countryside spa, you’re more than welcome to combine your massage with a longer stay and make use of all the facilities we have to offer.

Booking your deep tissue massage takes a matter of moments: just book a spa day or spa break through the book link at the top of the page, then explore the full range of massages, and select the time and date that’s convenient for you. Please note, however, that some of our treatments are only available at selected locations.

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Vitality members

Vitality members are now able to book online at vitality.champneys.com