DTM can benefit many people. Deep tissue massage uses all of the same strokes that Swedish massage uses and some additional ones too. It works on deeper layers of tissues and muscles. Slow, deep pressure strokes are used while staying in constant touch with the client, to make sure everything is within a clients boundaries of comfort. There is less emphasis on relaxation but, having said this it is still very relaxing. It is more about realigning tissues to relieve pain and re-establish normal muscle and joint movement.
Who Can DTM Help?
Deep tissue work can help most people. It is renown for being used by sports people. This is because they do suffer from muscular aches and pains more than most. But, it is not just for the sporty. If you have a stiff neck, painful back or tight shoulders DTM can help you. If you have any pains in any of your joints you too can benefit. It helps by working deeper on muscles that have been lengthened and shortened. This means your body parts are put in different positions before work is being done. As an example, with the legs your masseur may bend your leg at the knee before applying pressure. Many physical discomforts you have in your body can be lessened by a good deep tissue massage.
Strokes used in DTM
Deep work is applied very slowly in stages. Some examples include:
- DTM starts with effleurage to warm up tissues. This is done using hands and also forearms. Because we need to work deep, we need to get more grip on tissues. This means less oil is used than in therapeutic massage. Both slow and fast effleurage is used. The former allows you to introduce your self to the client, the latter will cause friction and warm things up more. Some figure of 8 motion can be used.
- Palms are used to knead muscles tissue warming them up further. The heel of the hand can be used to apply more pressure. You can go across tissue as well as along, freeing up and muscle fibres that are stiff.
- Fists are used next. Applying the pressure we slowly sink in to muscles at an oblique (45 degree) angle. Movement along the muscle is very slow.
- Knuckles can also be used when you want to be more precise about the area you are working on.
- Forearms are used while you apply your body weight slowly. Fleshy muscle (flexor carpi ulnaris) should be used on the client and not bone. Floppy wrists ensure the muscle cushion used is comfortable. This covers a wide area and thus is a very soothing motion. Applying body weight at 45 degrees means the forearm will move along by itself without much coaxing required.
- Deep tissue stroke can now be applied. All the tools above can be used with even more pressure. Highest-pressure strokes using much of your own body weight are applied using the elbow but, very mindfully.
- Palpation (feeling for tense places) now takes place gently, looking for trigger points of tension. High finger and thumb pressure can now be applied to these trigger points. Pain is judged on a 1 (low) to 10 (high) level and anything we find 6 or above can be worked on. High pressure is applied slowly building up and lasts for about 15 to 30 seconds. Once completed, most people will find the trigger point pain level much reduced. In my experience pain can go from an 8 down to a 2 or 3.
DTM is Used to Help Relieve Aches and Pains
Many masseurs use it to successfully treat aching, painful muscles and joints. This makes it particularly good for the common areas where this occurs. Stress and sitting at a computer all day can make your neck tense and stiff. The shoulders are also a regular area to store up tension in the muscles. You can sometimes see this in people when their shoulders are high in their sockets much of the time. The back is also very prone to aches and pains. Lower, middle and upper areas of the back can all be treated with deep tissue massage.
DTM is an aid to stiffness in muscles. It moves muscles fibres in ways that they don’t often get moved. This breaks any adhesive fibres up that were not moving passed each other correctly. This allows smoother, pain free muscle and joint movement. It can also allow for a greater range of movement. Muscles can be extended more and shortened better. Joints can become more flexible.