• Bonnie Chadwick

Deep Tissue Massage

This blog is my own interpretation of "deep tissue" massage after years of experience working on all kinds of clients.


Deep tissue massage should really be rephrased to therapeutic massage. The term deep tissue has become synonymous with pain. Massage does NOT need to be painful to be beneficial. Everyone that gets a massage with me is so different that it's just not appropriate to use the same techniques and pressure with every client. Everyone responds differently and has different needs.


Therapeutic massage is really what I do. I use various techniques and pressure to relieve pain. Technique is far more important than just digging into muscle tissue. Digging into the muscle tissue with no regard for what the body is saying can be dangerous and counterproductive to healing. I let the tissue itself tell me how much pressure I can use and if I should use a broader stroke, compression or a more refined touch. I also take cues from the person on the table, they let me know if its the right spot, too much or too little pressure. Massage is an art form in some ways, reading the body, knowing what works and what doesn't. So you can see that "deep tissue" doesn't really mean anything. It's a made up term that confuses clients and massage therapists. It may even scare people away from massage.


After saying that; there is something called "good pain" that you get with a therapeutic massage, and perhaps we need a new term for this because it's an oxymoron. I have enjoyed this "good pain" in a massage and its almost like my body is saying, yes... this feels awesome while the brain is saying "ouch". Its like a fight between brain and body but in the end it DOES actually relieve the pain! Usually compression technique elicits this response in clients. It's not clear why this happens, I don't think science has any explanation for this phenomenon yet. The difference between pain and good pain is the reaction of the muscle tissue. We are trying get a relaxation response not a "that hurts" response. Excessive, painful force will cause the body to tense up and the massage will not be effective and in fact may cause more pain. As a massage therapist my goal is always to leave the clients feeling great when they depart.


Relaxation massage can be just as beneficial as therapeutic massage. Relaxation massage is just that, relaxing mind, body and spirit to engage the parasympathetic nervous system, to reduce stress and free the mind. In a relaxation massage, I generally use longer, slower and more fluid strokes and set a rhythm like ocean waves.


It irks me when I get a massage and they assume I want deeper pressure just because I'm a massage therapist. It's almost like they are trying to show off their "deep tissue" prowess. This is just wrong.


Communication is so important when you're getting a massage. If something hurts please speak up! Do not "tolerate" a painful massage just because you think you should. It's YOUR massage and I want you to get the most out of it.


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