It has occurred to me that I advertise deep tissue massage on my website, but don’t talk about it much in my posts. Why is this? Mainly because I don’t much like the term, as it is too generic and people read different things into it. People ask for deep tissue massage all the time though, So what does it mean? When clients contact me and ask to book in for a “deep tissue massage”, this tells me more about them than about what I am going to do during the session. Immediately, this says to me that the person wants a firm massage and, in all probability, expects/wants it to hurt. The only real definition of deep tissue massage indicates that one is working beyond the superficial tissue layers, to the underlying muscles and deep fascia. Other than that, there are no rules. Some people carry out deep tissue massage using no oil, which is, strictly speaking, a direct myofascial technique, as you can feel a burning, dragging sensation as the fascia moves and reorganises. Deep tissue massage routines seem to involve plunging one’s elbows into tight and painful areas, whether the tissue is ready or not!
My own experience of deep tissue massage comes mainly from master Practitioner, Darrien Pritchard, who taught us to use plenty of oil and also to use our forearms and elbows, with our body weight behind them. The result is that the therapist can work deeply, but without hurting, even if they are a relatively small woman like me! In this picture, I am using my forearm to massage the back. I would use this technique equally on someone who has pulled a muscle doing sport or on someone who spends too much time at their desk. Both will love the firm pressure, but it shouldn’t be painful!