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Everything We Need to Know on Deep Tissue Massage Therapy Deep tissue massage therapy is similar to Swedish massage but distinguishes from it in the sense that it uses firm pressure and slow strokes to reach the deeper layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia, the protective layer surrounding the muscles, bones and joints, to release chronic muscle tensions and pains and contracted areas, such as stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness and sore shoulders. At the start of the deep tissue massage, light pressure is first applied to warm up and prep the muscles and specific massage techniques are used, such as – stripping which applies deep, gliding pressure along the length of the muscle fibers with the use of the elbow, forearm, knuckles, and thumbs; friction which applies pressure across the grain of a muscle to release adhesion and re-align muscle fibers. After the application of light pressure, a deep, firm pressure is applied to break up scar tissue and physically break down muscle knots or adhesion that can disrupt circulation and cause pain, which can lead to inflammation or the limiting of the body movements. At some point, there will be discomfort or some pain as the massage therapist works on areas where there are adhesion or scar tissues when the deep tissue massage is applied using his/her fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows, and forearms; therefore, breathe deeply, and you should always inform the massage therapist if you feel pain so he/she can adjust his technique, since a sign of pain may mean that your superficial muscles are responding tensely against the pain, making it harder for the massage therapist to reach the deeper muscles. Drink water after the massage to help flush out the metabolic waste from the tissues, but you may feel some stiffness or soreness which should subside within a day or so.
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The effect of deep tissue massage has been found in the follow studies, from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine and in the 2010 meta-analysis in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, showing that after a single 45 to 60 minute deep tissue massage, stress hormone levels and heart rate are reduced and mood and relaxation are boosted up, which, in effect, help release oxytocin and serotonin, hormones that give us the feeling of happiness. Low back pain, limited mobility, recovery from whiplash injury, repetitive strain injury, postural problems, muscle tensions, osteoarthritis pain, sciatica, sports issues fro runners and athletes, Piriformis syndrome, tennis elbow, Fibromyalgia, upper back or neck pain – these are where pain release and recovery can take place using deep tissue massage.
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There are, however, certain health issues where deep tissue massage cannot be applied, such as blood clots, recent surgery, bruises or inflamed or infected skin, unhealed wounds, fragile bones, fractures, tumors, abdominal hernia, and pregnant women.