Deep Tissue/ Sports Massage Myths

In this article I will be talking about a few myths people think/assume a Sports Massage or Deep Tissue will be like.

Background on Muscles

There are two primary categories of tissue that massage therapists address. They are the superficial tissue layers which include skin, fatty layer and superficial fascia. The other is the deep tissues or structures such as muscles, ligaments, tendons and deep fascia.

Superficial layers are massaged using Swedish or relaxation massage techniques which reduce stress and relax clients.

Deep tissue simply means you work with the deeper underlying structures, a variety of massage techniques will be used, some will involve a firmer pressure, and some will be a lot lighter. It always depends on a client’s needs and pain threshold as to how much pressure I apply.

The Myths

  • Deep tissue means a lot of pressure

Pressure is a personal preference, as a therapist I will listen to clients and what they need. Sometimes only lighter pressure is needed to achieve a good result. If I need to apply more pressure I will ask and only go as far as a client wants.

  • More pressure = better result

Massage is about applying a specific technique to an area of tissue to get a particular physiological response. Different areas require different techniques and therefore different pressures, for example you would not apply the same pressure on a trigger point and an adhesion.

  • Deep tissue massage is meant to be painful 

Sports Massage can be an intense treatment and pain may be felt, however this does depend on the level of tissue damage you have.

More damage = More pain.

If too much pressure is applied the muscle may tense up and as a reaction the client can move away from a therapist. This is when I adjust the pressure and adapt the pressure to the client’s needs. A too painful massage can be counterproductive and have the opposite result to the intended outcome.

Communication is key for this – tell me when the pressure is too much, and I will stop!

  • Bruising is a good thing

As a therapist I hate bruising people and it is a rare occurrence I can promise you. If you are prone to bruising, then please tell me so that I can ease off the pressure and be more careful.

Bruising is not a good thing – but due to the nature of the massage can sometimes happen.

As a therapist we can only go on client feedback, I cannot stress enough that ‘no pain no gain’ is a key element of sports massage. Yes, some pain may need to be endured to get results, but I am not a mind reader, I don’t know if what I am applying is too much unless you tell me! I will not be offended or judge you if you tell me it is too much for you.

Not all therapists are the same – one bad experience with a painful massage does not mean we are all like that! Try one and see!



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