In my 24 years and Patsi Gately’s (my business partner) 29 years of being massage therapists, one of the most frequent questions we are asked by potential clients is, “Do you do deep tissue massage?
It is a challenging question to answer because we first need to understand what each person means by “deep tissue massage.”
Does the question mean:
1) “Do you do massage in a way that addresses the various layers of tissues that overlie and/or affect/influence a particular tight or sore area?”
OR, does it mean:
2) “Do you use firm pressure (i.e., do you press hard during massage)?
We have written quite a bit about deep tissue massage on our website to help you understand our definition and approach to this effective massage technique. Please read further:
At the Massage Therapy & Wellness Center, we do deep tissue massage in a way that is best described by answer #1. We can also use firm pressure, but for some injuries and medical concerns, it is not appropriate. Sometimes people ask for deep tissue massage because they’ve been told, “That’s the best for really getting rid of tightness or pain.” That is not always true.
Consider the short video below. Yes, the client is a horse – a great big horse with a great big jaw. Pay attention to the amount of pressure needed to help the horse release tension.
In the video*, Jim Masterson, an expert and well-respected equine bodyworker (https://www.mastersonmethod.com), demonstrates how to release tension in the temporomandibular joint (you may know the joint as the TMJ) of a horse. His work is gentle, yet effective. He does not need to press hard. In fact, in the video, he keeps using lighter pressure to achieve the goal of releasing tension in the horse’s TMJ.
In our work as massage therapists, Patsi, or I may pause and use gentle pressure on an area that is particularly tight. A client may wonder why were aren’t just “digging right in there” to get the muscle to relax. We know that won’t work all the time or at that particular time. Rather, we are likely to be waiting for the person’s nervous system to respond in a way that allows relaxation. That is why we wait. That is why Jim Masterson waits for his horse clients to respond.
We can and do use firm pressure during massage. Just understand that depth of pressure is only part of an effective approach to giving a deep tissue massage. In my opinion, deep tissue massage is more about responding to what I see and feel – and then using my skills, knowledge and experience to address the issue versus using any one particular technique.
When You Call Us
When you call the Massage Therapy & Wellness Center and ask about deep tissue massage, we want to discuss your particular situation and preferences with you. We will work to pair you with the therapist who is most likely to fit your needs for amount of pressure used during massage, whether it be light, moderate or firm. Call us at 219 879-5722.
*Thanks to Masterson Method® for permission to use the “TMJ of the Horse” video.