Picture a spa-like setting with white walls, scented candles, a white plush robe and a massage table. As you walk into your massage appointment, the therapist may ask if you want a deep tissue massage or Swedish light massage. If you’re looking to zone out and just destress, the Swedish massage is a good choice. However, if you’re looking to improve your performance, decrease recovery time for training, improve circulation and decrease the risk of injury, a deep tissue massage should be your choice.
“According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, approximately 15.4 million American adults (6.9 percent) and 385,000 children (0.7 percent) have used massage therapy services.” You don’t need a massage therapist to get the benefits of a deep tissue massage, you just need the right tools and techniques. There are several tools you can use for deep tissue massage benefits.
Here are five benefits of using deep tissue massage:
- Lymphatic drainage. During a massage, lymphatic drainage stimulates the lymphatic system and increases lymph flow. A more efficient lymphatic system can reduce the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness and decrease swelling, muscular fatigue, weakness and pain.
- Lactic acid release. Muscle soreness occurs because muscle and the connective tissue around it get damaged during exercise. The lactic acid increase in the muscles cues the body to repair and heal. Although the removal of lactic acid from the body through massage seems confusing, by increasing the circulation, your body naturally removes this lactic acid. This removal can help decrease the time it takes to help the muscles recover. In general terms, the more time you spend on recovery techniques like massage or myofascial release, the faster lactic acid will be reduced in the muscles and increase healing and decrease muscle soreness.
- Muscle adhesion release. Deep tissue massage can help break up the muscle adhesions developed by friction of the muscle against the fascia network. These muscle adhesions can feel like knots when you rub the muscle. To better understand the fascia, picture a chicken breast. The outer covering is the skin, just like in your body. As you pull the skin away from the muscle, you see a shiny sheer covering. This is the fascia. As you take a knife and cut into the breast, you see the muscle tissue and fibers. In deep tissue massage, the pressure helps move the fascia and skin to relieve pressure surrounding the muscles.
- Improved appearance of skin surface. Deep tissue massage can improve the appearance of the skin. The massage brings blood flow to the surface. The dilation of surface capillaries gives the skin a healthy glow as blood flows more easily. Your skin texture can feel softer and supple as increasing circulation delivers nourishment and hydration.
- Improved flexibility. Massage increases flexibility by increasing temperature, with more blood flow coming to the muscles. This heat aids in the elasticity of muscles. Think of muscles having an elastic/plastic relationship. Cold muscles are more like plastic that can be brittle and break when engaged in cold temperatures. Muscles that are heated have a more elastic property and thereby more pliable and flexible. Massage helps increase flexibility by increasing tissue elasticity. Massage applies pressure to muscles, stretching and elongating them. Stretching muscle fibers is important to increase flexibility