Massage: A Deeper Look (Part II)

One of the most important things to do before giving – or receiving – a deep tissue massage is to determine which muscles need a deep tissue approach. It’s very rare that all muscles will need to have deep tissue massage and recipients can end up more beat up and tense after their massage if they do not identify which areas are to receive deep tissue massage, and which are to not. As another blogger on massage has commented: “It isn’t 60 minutes of muscle-pounding, pain-inducing, steamrolling hell,” wrote Anitra Brown in her blog. “It is a Swedish massage with deep work on specific areas.”

Besides the popular Swedish massage, there is barefoot deep tissue massage, which uses the heel and arch of the foot for a larger compression area with less pressure than a regular deep tissue massage. There is also Anma, a traditional Chinese deep tissue massage, Esalen massage, which focuses on deep tissue massage of muscles and joints, Postural Integration, which combines deep tissue massage with different breathing techniques, body movements and emotional expression, Raynor Massage, which is very deep tissue and focuses on deep abdominal massage, three-tiered Russian Massage, and Structural Integration, among others. If you’re interested in more details, visit Wikipedia and search “massage”.

But, from a more layman perspective, and, as stated above, whatever type of deep tissue massage type you get, it is really important that you make clear where you want it to be focused. Many people go into any massage thinking that a total deep tissue massage of all parts of the body is the only way to “get your money’s worth”. This is not the case and will just leave the therapist exhausted and the client in pain.

From a therapist’s perspective, after identifying which areas are to receive deep tissue treatment, therapists need to focus on the amount of pressure and the speed with which they apply the massage. The amount of strength a therapist applies must be balanced by any discomfort or pain that a client may receive by having too much pressure placed on one area.

Which brings me back to my animal massage posts. At the beginning of this month, in my “Massage For Animals” entry, I wrote that some therapists actually practice massage on animals to enhance their abilities to read body language and signs of discomfort from clients who have no way of communicating with words. This then helps them when they are in the serene, speech-free atmosphere of a massage. Being able to feel how a client is reacting to the strong and focused strokes of a deep tissue massage is key in being able to deliver one with quality. If a client and therapist are on the same page about a deep tissue massage, the benefits can be, in a word, deep.

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