The words "deep tissue" get thrown around a lot without much explanation as to what it really means so many in the public think it just means more pressure. There is more to deep tissue than just more pressure. Here is my best attempt to explain what is meant by deep tissue.
Deep Tissue (Targeted Bodywork): Uses slow and specific strokes to release muscular knots, fascial adhesion and chronic muscular tension. The hand, forearm, or fist are used to sink into the tissue to the first barrier, hook in, and wait for the tissue to release. This process is repeated until the knot or fascial adhesion has been released. Deep tissue is what I like to call "targeted bodywork"...working on a specific area or problem. Deep tissue can be uncomfortable at times but should not be so painful that you want to jump off the table. Sometimes I will ask you to take in a deep breath and slowly exhale when working an area. This helps you to relax mentally as well as physically. If you are tense and holding your breath because it is too painful then you and I will be working against each other.
Many factors have to be considered when incorporating any deep work into a massage session. Some questions might be... 1) Are you taking blood thinners? 2) Do you have osteoarthritis? 3) Are you in treatment for cancer now or in the past? There are other factors but you can see why deep work is not good for all people even if they want it.
Just a side note: A Swedish Massage uses long flowing strokes generally towards the heart. Pressure can be light, moderate or firm. The main goal of a Swedish massage is to provide relief from stress and muscular tension by calming down the nervous system and soothing and relaxing tight muscles. Swedish massage increases oxygen flow in the blood and increases circulation. Swedish massage is perfect for those who come in for relaxation and stress reduction.
I hope this helps you understand what Deep Tissue really means. You can always ask for a swedish massage with a side of seep tissue. If you have any questions on what type of massage would best benefit you lets talk about it at your next session. I will be more than happy to discuss the options with you.
---Alicia Lingenfelter, LMT
Massage Therapist specializing in Therapeutic, Oncology, and Geriatric massage.