Many seeking massage therapy for stress release or as a pleasurable pastime have shied away from the deep tissue variety. Spas that offer massage therapy are popping up everywhere. Each one provides a long list of various massage techniques to choose from. Opposed to Swedish and Thai traditions, deep tissue massage is often associated with that “hurts so good” experience that isn’t quite for everyone. But why do some flock to it? Does it have real benefits for the body? How do you know when you need a good deep tissue experience? And why does it hurt so darn much?
Deep tissue massage triggers pressure points that alleviate pain, improve circulation, release endorphins and aid the detoxification process. Pressure points play a vital role in all of the above. Our general understanding of pressure points stems from ancient Chinese medicine. These points, which run along the major body systems from head to toe, help move life energy through the body when triggered. There are over three hundred pressure points in the body; most of which are sensitive when pressure is applied. The magic happens when pressure is placed in these target areas. Many receiving massage therapy report that after initial soreness, their muscles are more loose, agile and they report a general sense of feeling more energetic and balanced.
Deep tissue massage also loosens tight muscles, coaxing them out of their holding patterns. Repeated actions can cause our muscles to create a memory–actions that derive from daily habits such as hunching over a computer screen, lifting heavy objects, or even rigorous exercise routines. Day after day our bodies assume familiar positions and our muscles take notice. They adjust in response to make these patterns more comfortable. As a result, we develop knots where our muscles contract repeatedly. Deep tissue massage can help our muscles “unlearn” these patterns, release, and return to a more normal state of rest.
Tear Down The Build Up
Some blame lactic acid for the soreness and pain that follows a deep tissue massage. While the connection between lactic acid and muscle soreness is still disputed, massage therapists are hip to the release that massage can provide. The idea is that routine and strenuous exercise create a build-up in the muscles. Massage therapy helps release that build up by getting the blood and oxygen flowing. Toxins are released and passed through the system and out of the body. This process can create soreness. It’s important to drink lots of water after a deep tissue massage to help aid the flushing out of junk your body doesn’t need.
Deep tissue massage also activates the drainage areas of the lymphatic system. Lymph nodes are responsible for removing waste from your system. When your lymph nodes are in their optimum working condition your immune system skyrockets leaving you less susceptible to disease and fatigue. Most kinds of massage will cover these areas, aiding in detox and keeping them in tip top shape. Have the inclination to help others with deep tissue massage? Consider enrolling in massage therapy classes to start helping others release their tension and pain.
Jazmine Green lives and writes in Los Angeles, CA. As a wellness practitioner, she recommends massage therapy classes to serious students seeking a career in health and wellness.