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How do you define "Deep Tissue" massage? With so many differing opinions out there, I'd really like to hear what everyone out there believes encompasses a Deep Tissue session. Share and compare! I look forward to everyone's thoughts.
Deep tissue is working specifically as opposed to in general.. It doesn't mean you press so hard that it hurts your client. Its not a matter of taking pain or breathing through it.. All though it can be sore. It should be a pleasant process. A hurt so good, if you will.
Getting below superficial muscles by either direct pressure or approaching the muscles from their sides. Work that relaxes and allows circulation in all muscles even those near the bones (deep). Most of this work is done with forearm, elbow, knee, shin, and feet. It can be painful but not injurious. Often the feeling is described as "good pain". The pain produced ends as soon as pressure is released. It can also include deep visceral work. The bodies own rotation can be used to aid in stretching and applying pressure. It can be done on a single muscle during other forms of massage or full body depending on need and desire.
I like this question because like you said "there are so many opinions out there" What I really hate about the term is some clients have it in there mind that DT is just a massage that hurts.
I would have to agree with the mentioning of muscle specific. DT work purpose is to target muscles that are causing pain, discomfort or misalignments. So with that said DT work can be a little painful as you try work against/with the body's muscles to get them (muscles) back where they are suppose to be, either pain free, or in the right areas. These muscles can be superficial and/or deep.
When I did my NMT training, we used the word "uncomfortable" to describe how DT should feel. I thought that was a great way to educate clients on a True Deep Tissue by a properly trained professional as opposed to the MT's that think, as was mentioned, DT is simply "heavy pressure". I also like Gordon and Daniel's definitions. I think they captured the heart of what Deep Tissue is all about.
"deep tissue" to me means kneading / working the muscles until it works the " kinks" out! And the depth will depend on each individual client... I do not agree " digging" into a client full force, if it just cause them to tense up even more... it totally is different for each client!
It's interesting that there is little reference to fascia in the various discussions here about deeper work. Rolfing is certainly deep work and its focus is more on connective tissue than muscle.
Whatever we do as MT's we are working with more than muscles: nerves and receptors, internal organs, fascia, lymph and arterial/venous systems,stored emotional memory and so on. We can work deeply from a physically superficial place (cranio-sacral for example) .
Deep-tissue is somewhat the buzzword in the area I live and many seem to think it defines therapeutic massage. Much of the deeper work I've gotten has felt intrusive and painful and seemed ultimately self-defeating. I think a lot of MT's don't have much of a sense of what they're trying to do when they work deeper. So they just go there and hammer away without paying attention to their own sensory feedback loop: I just applied some pressure and I felt something give, maybe it's time to move on.
My own deeper work tends to move slowly, one layer at a time. My training emphasizes the concept that we are creating new, pleasurable muscle memory that will break the old paradigm of contraction and discomfort. It's about nudging and cajoling the tissues into releasing and doing it slowly enough so the receiver's mind/body doesn't tighten up against the work. We can't do good by trying to get in further and faster than the receiver is ready for.
That all said, I wouldn't mind experiencing a session from a couple of the trigger-point oriented MT's in this forum!