10 Deep Tissue Massage Benefits Proven by Science

deep tissue massage benefits after a One Body session Physiotherapy in London

Stress, tension, sports injuries, chronic pain… deep tissue massage benefits can heal or improve all of these ailments. But how does it work and are these benefits real? Let’s find out. In this article, we are exploring the benefits of deep tissue massage that have been proven by science and witnessed first-hand by our expert massage therapists at One Body.

Deep tissue massage is just one type of massage, characterised by intense manual techniques that penetrate to the deepest layers of muscle and connective tissue. It has a different purpose to Swedish massage or soft tissue massage and thus the benefits are different too. If you need to recap what exactly a deep tissue massage entails, read our helpful Deep Tissue Massage Guide first.

Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

Our experienced deep tissue massage therapists have outlined these 10 health benefits as their favourite reasons you should choose a deep tissue massage at One Body.

1. Relieves Muscle Tension

A deep tissue massage targets deep layers of the muscles to release tension and knots. We will work on these knots to promote blood flow and use firm pressure on areas that feel particularly tense. As a result, you should feel more relaxed and mobile after your massage.

A study comparing therapeutic massage and positional release therapy found that both treatments are effective in reducing pain and muscle stiffness when targeting trigger points in the upper trapezius muscle. You can book massage therapy sessions to target specific areas that feel tense or choose a full body massage to target widespread tension and stress.

2. Improves Posture

One of the most underrated deep tissue massage benefits is how it helps realign muscles and alleviate strain, promoting better posture over time. With less tension in your muscles and full range of motion (see below), you can sit up straighter and enjoy better posture with ease.

Furthermore, we know that massage therapy is excellent for spinal health. This study confirms that massage therapy is useful for recovery, pain relief and spine health in patients who have undergone surgery for spinal cord injuries.

3. Reduces Chronic Pain

Deep tissue massage is highly effective in managing chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and lower back pain. It is also considered safe and effective for almost everyone. For example, this study looked at how treating tension in the psoas muscle with massage therapy affected children with chronic abdominal pain. They observed 122 children aged 2 to 18 with moderate to severe symptoms over two years. After an average of 5 sessions, 92% experienced complete relief from their symptoms, and most remained symptom-free.

4. Increases Range of Motion

After a deep tissue massage session, you should find that it has loosened tight muscles and fascia, enhancing your flexibility and movement. It is highly effective for improving mobility in your neck, arms, legs and back in particular.

In this study, women with chronic tension headaches received upper body massage, starting with gentle techniques and moving to deeper ones, targeting trigger points. The researchers found that the range of neck movement increased, pain levels decreased, and muscle activity improved significantly.

5. Enhances Athletic Performance

Deep tissue massage is a popular therapy for pro and amateur athletes as part of their regular training regime. In addition to sports massage therapy (which borrows many of the same techniques), deep tissue massage aids in muscle recovery, reduces risk of injury, and boosts performance for active individuals.

Research published in Science Translational Medicine and reported by Harvard found that applying deep tissue massage techniques to mice using a mechanical device (like a massage gun!) cleared immune cells and inflammation from injured muscle tissue, promoting tissue regeneration. The result? Muscles treated with massage experienced better muscle repair and strength recovery compared to untreated muscles.

6. Promotes Relaxation

Despite its intensity, deep tissue massage induces relaxation by easing muscle tension and stress. A good massage session provided by an experienced massage therapist in a clean and welcoming massage clinic can work wonders. It is a chance to relax, unwind, and literally feel the stress be pushed away.

A review of studies exploring the benefits of deep tissue massage on stress concluded that a single session of deep tissue massage can measurably reduce physiological measures such as heart rate and cortisol levels.

7. Boosts Circulation

The circulation system in your body has two parts: the cardiovascular system and the lymphatic system. Deep tissue massage benefits the lymphatic system through lymphatic drainage (see immune function below to learn more). The deep strokes used during deep tissue massage stimulate blood flow to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues via the cardiovascular system, too, aiding in healing and recovery.

Deep tissue massage stimulates blood flow to deep layers of muscles, boosting circulation that brings nutrient-rich blood to damaged tissues. This enhances your recovery and takes stress off your heart. We know that poor circulation can lead to more pressure on your heart, resulting in a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

8. Breaks Down Scar Tissue

One of the lesser-known benefits of deep tissue massage is that it helps break down adhesions and scar tissue, improving mobility and reducing pain. At One Body, we frequently help patients break down tough scar tissues from healed past injuries, allowing them to move freely once again and get back to living life to the fullest.

A review of methods to manage scar tissue found that massage therapy was effective for reducing pain and scar thickness, particularly for hypertrophic and burn scars.

9. Lowers Blood Pressure

Consistent deep tissue massage sessions can help regulate blood pressure by reducing stress and tension in the body. Reduced blood pressure also reduces the pressure placed on the heart, which can have widespread effects, from reducing your risk of serious disease to boosting your athletic performance.

One study notes that “mental stress and anxiety are major causes of hypertension and mortality from cardiovascular diseases.” The study goes on to examine how foot massage (and therefore massage in general) could reduce stress and anxiety by measuring blood pressure – it found that massage notably reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in participants. It also concluded that massage reduced anxiety and improved the overall quality of life for those involved.

10. Boosts Immune Function

Finally, deep tissue massage releases toxins from the muscles and supports lymphatic drainage, enhancing immune function. As mentioned, the lymphatic system is one part of your body’s circulation. It maintains fluid balance and is an integral part of the immune system.

When lymphatic drainage is improved through massage, it can enhance the body’s ability to eliminate toxins, thus supporting overall immune function. When the lymphatic system is healthy, it can better identify and eliminate harmful pathogens, viruses, and other foreign substances, helping to strengthen your defences against illness and disease.

Studies have noted that this benefit of deep tissue massage is part of what makes it a viable treatment for conditions like COPD and fibromyalgia.

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The Dangers of Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is a safe and effective massage therapy, but it isn’t suitable for everyone. Pregnant women and people with a blood clotting disorder or weak bones should avoid the firm pressure of a deep tissue massage.

The dangers of the practice for most people are very slight. For example, you might experience:

  • Pain and discomfort during the massage (it feels somewhat like a release).
  • Muscle soreness afterwards, not unlike the soreness you get after an intense workout.
  • Post massage fatigue that’s quickly solved by a light meal and a good night’s sleep!

You might have heard reports of bruising, infection, and nerve damage as a result of deep tissue massage – these adverse effects are typically the result of an inexperienced massage therapist using too much force or an unsanitary workplace. When practised correctly in a professional clinic, a deep tissue massage should restore your body rather than damage it.

Furthermore, if you are not accustomed to the pressure of a deep tissue massage or don’t know what you are getting into, you might also experience some stress and anxiety. It is an intense experience, after all!

This is why it is key to find a professional and experienced massage therapist that you can trust and communicate with. A good deep tissue massage therapist listens to you, tailoring the treatment to suit your body and ensuring you feel comfortable and relaxed at all times. You should leave your sessions feeling rejuvenated albeit a little sore, and ready to go home and recover.

Discover Award-Winning, Highly Trained Massage Therapists

One Body is an award-winning massage therapy clinic in London specialising in sports massage, deep tissue massage, physiotherapy, and so much more. In three convenient locations (more coming soon!), our clinics are home to a team of highly qualified therapists with backgrounds ranging from the NHS to Team GB. If you need regular deep tissue massage sessions, you can find a massage therapist that fits your goals from our Meet Our Experts page.

Did you know that you can use private health insurance or corporate benefits to cover deep tissue massage costs? Learn more about how to use private health insurance and our pricing here. We can’t wait to help you reduce your pain and fix your body, for good.

FAQs

What does a deep tissue massage do?

A deep tissue massage is the application of firm pressure and slow strokes to target the deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. It can alleviate muscle tension, break down tough tissues, and promote relaxation and musculoskeletal healing.

Does deep tissue massage hurt?

Deep tissue massage can be uncomfortable or even a little painful depending on your pain tolerance. It is often described as a good pain or a release, like cracking your knuckles. You should not be in any unbearable pain, however. If the massage is too intense, talk to your therapist about reducing the pressure or trying a gentler massage therapy like Swedish massage.

How often should I get a deep tissue massage?

If you are looking to get deep tissue massages regularly to deal with chronic pain or as part of athletic training, we recommend booking sessions two weeks apart. Once your body is accustomed to deep tissue massage, you can choose to book weekly sessions if you need more. Allowing a minimum of seven days between sessions will give your body a chance to recover.

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