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Deep Tissue Massage

A deep tissue massage targets connective tissue underlying the muscles to ease postural problems, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, carpal tunnel syndrome, whiplash and sports injuries.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: September 28, 2012

Deep tissue massages are meant to manually manipulate the underlying connective tissues in muscles. A deep tissue massage can ease postural problems, fibromyalgia, muscle tension, muscle spasms, injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, whiplash, and sports injury.

The origins of Deep Tissue Massage: Deep tissue massage has been around in one form or another for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians, for example, used a form of deep tissue massage.

Deep tissue massage in its present form can be traced back to 19th century Canada, where it was used to treat whiplash. Deep tissue massage was formalized as a practice in 1949 by Canadian doctor Therese Whimmer.

Benefits Of Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage, like Rolfing, involves the relief of "knots," pressure and adhesions in the fascia, the tissues connecting muscles. It is a good therapy for sports and muscle injuries and stress relief.

What To Expect

During your appointment, a massage therapist uses their fingertips, knuckles, elbows, and forearms to deliver slow, intense pressure and target the ""knots"" found in your muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Knots, which are also called adhesions, are responsible for causing chronic muscle tension, such as a stiff neck, lower tightness of the back, and sore shoulders, as well as poor circulation and inflammation of your connective tissues.

Pressure on the knots can be uncomfortable for some people. Unlike Swedish massage, deep tissue massage tends to involve pressure against, not with, the grain of muscles.

After a deep tissue massage, the body creates a surfeit of lactic acid-a chemical compound that forms naturally due to exercise-in the underlying tissues. Drinking plenty of water after your deep tissue massage can help flush the lactic acid from your body and help reduce aches and pains the next day.

Specialized equipment: Clients typically undress for a deep tissue massage and lie on a padded massage table. Clients are draped with a sheet or massage cloth during therapy; the therapist will undrape the body part worked upon at any given time.

Massage oil is applied to the skin to aid with friction and tissue manipulation.

Recommended sessions: Though a single session of deep tissue massage can be beneficial, clients with chronic stress conditions or longstanding injuries typically see cumulative results from repeated deep tissue massage.

Preparation: Proper hydration before a massage may reduce post-massage tenderness. Make sure to tell your massage therapist if you are pregnant or if you have any preexisting tenderness or injury.

If at any point during a deep tissue massage you experience actual pain (as opposed to a temporary ache) make sure to inform your massage therapist.


People with a history of blood clots should not have deep tissue massage, as the pressure may release clots in the bloodstream. Some people experience bruising or soreness after a deep tissue massage.

Who wouldn't benefit: Most people can benefit from a deep tissue massage. However, people who have just had surgery or who have open wounds should wait until cleared by a doctor.

Celebrity Devotees

Kate Hudson enjoys the deep tissue massages at Bliss.

Find licensed and certified experts who offer Deep Tissue Massage near you