Healthy Living

Health Benefits of a Deep Tissue Massage

8 Proven Benefits Of Deep Tissue Massage

Stress caused by physical and psychological factors has been known to be relieved by massages for over thousands of years around the world. These days, research studies continue to show that massage therapies are effective methods of treating common health issues, such as lower back pain, arthritis, and anxiety, when used alone or when combined with other types of treatment. 

Although other types of massage rejuvenate the body and make you feel relaxed, a deep tissue massage provides therapeutic effects that can aid in the healing or repairing of the body’s tissues, muscles, and joints. 

What is deep tissue massage?

Deep tissue massage involves working on the muscle’s deep layers and fascia. Fascia is a web or sheet of connective tissue, which is formed in bands beneath the skin. It stabilizes, attaches, separates, and encloses all internal parts of the body. 

Deep tissue massage can be used for the treatment of a variety of health conditions since it has therapeutic effects. This type of massage is done by applying deep pressure with slow but firm strokes. It is different from a Swedish massage, wherein it uses light pressure. Deep tissue massage can also be used to relieve joint and tendon injuries. Ideally, this technique is beneficial for major muscle groups in the lower back and neck.

It is important to note that deep tissue massage is not often used for relaxation, but rather for rehabilitation and therapeutic purposes. Thus, expect to feel some degree of discomfort during the massage and after having it since this type of massage is focused on easing tension and strain from deeper tissues. 

Different degrees of pressure will be applied by the massage therapist on tight muscles while you lie on your stomach. However, if you are experiencing extreme pain, inform your therapist immediately . The main goal of deep tissue massage is to relieve pain and discomfort while allowing the body to naturally heal by itself. 

Health Benefits of a Deep Tissue Massage

1. Reduces symptoms of anxiety, muscle tension, and stress

Studies have shown that massage therapies can help soothe and relax the body as well as help reduce the levels of cortisol, which is also known as the stress hormone. Muscle tension and chronic stress can cause inflammation that can lead to cardiovascular problems (hypertension), low immunity, slow recovery, and worsened health.

Massage therapies can also help increase the production of oxytocin, which is a hormone with calming and relaxing effects. This hormone is also called the bonding hormone or cuddle hormone, since it is released from touch during hugs, social bonding, and birth. Oxytocin helps sustain human social bonds and improves cooperative behavior.  

Other stress-relieving effects of a deep tissue massage are its capability to:

  • Dilate blood vessels
  • Naturally control cortisol secretion
  • Boost parasympathetic nervous system activity

2. Helps relieve chronic back pain

Around 31 million Americans experience lower back pain at some point in time according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). Researchers have found out that deep tissue massages may help relieve back pain, particularly chronic lower back pain. Moreover, other studies have similar findings, wherein they found out that deep tissue massages alone may help improve chronic symptoms than other types of massage that are combined with NSAID treatment. 

3. Helps in controlling high blood pressure

According to one study, deep tissue massage has a positive effect on adults who are experiencing symptoms of high blood pressure. This study was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2008. It involved 263 volunteers, who had an average age of 48.5. 

Before the massage therapy, which lasted for 45-60 minutes, the volunteers had moderate to severe muscle strains or spasms. After the massage treatment, the following results showed:

  • A reduction of 10.4 mm/Hg in the average systolic pressure 
  • A reduction of 5.3 mm/Hg in the diastolic pressure 
  • A reduction of 7.0 mm/Hg in mean arterial pressure
  • An average reduction of 10.8 beats per minute in heart rate

4. Helps break down scar tissues

Scarring is part of the body's natural healing process. Although scars are externally seen on a healed wound, scar formation can also happen on the inside following a ligament or muscle injury. Deep tissue massage can help break down both external and internal scar tissues along with a faster muscle recovery since it helps:

  • Loosen up muscles
  • Reduce automatic stress response
  • Stimulate blood flow
  • Reduce muscle spasms and inflammation

5. Enhances athletic performance and recovery

Athletes have an increased risk of developing soreness and muscle injury. Deep tissue massage can help provide reduced muscle tension and improved blood flow. Although there is still no specific research done on the benefits of deep tissue massage on joint and muscle rehabilitation, studies show that massage therapy generally helps with performance, prevention of muscle injury, and recovery. 

6. Helps with pain during labor and childbirth

Massage therapy, according to studies, can effectively help pregnant women manage labor pains. Reduced levels of anxiety, depression, and body aches (back and leg pain) are reported in women who receive massage therapy during pregnancy. In one study, pregnant women who had massages before and during labor had a shorter labor duration with lesser pain, resulting in the lesser need for medications. 

7. Improves symptoms of arthritis

Massage therapies are often used to relieve symptoms of arthritis as well as anxiety, trouble sleeping, chronic joint pain, limited range of motion, and stiffness. For natural relief, firm massages can be regularly used and performed by therapists or by the patients themselves. Firmer massage therapies often result in improved arthritis pain when compared to lighter massage therapies. 

8. Helps ease symptoms of fibromyalgia 

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that is characterized by a number of symptoms, which include widespread pain and tenderness throughout the body. People with fibromyalgia may find relief with massage therapies, although studies have reported only short-term benefits. You may consult a registered remedial therapist to know what kind of massage therapy can help ease your pain.