Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What exactly is "deep tissue" massage?

A great question, yet the answer is unfortunately so often misunderstood. More often than we'd like, we've had clients come in complaining about massages they have endured before finding us. These "deep tissue" massages left them feeling bruised, battered and more stressed than when they came in. They want to know: Is this what deep tissue massage is all about? Does massage have to hurt to be effective? The answer to both questions is NO and NO. Apotheca's deep tissue therapists, who are properly trained in this work, know that deep tissue massage doesn't just mean working "harder" on the muscles. Deep tissue methods are concerned with working the fascia, a seamless web of connective tissue that covers and connects the muscles, organs, and skeletal structures in our body. By slowly and methodically working this connective matrix--which goes from a gel state to a liquid state when warmed-- a qualified therapist can release chronic patterns of tension and pain. This work can be painful when it is attempted by someone who only knows how to manipulate the muscles themselves. Specific moves, stretches and hand placement can free and mobilize places that regular muscle massage may not be able to get to. The bottom line: Please don't let anybody tell you that deep tissue work simply must hurt to be effective. It is true that in many cases, deep tissue work can be intense. But it should never leave you feeling bruised or abused.

What should I realistically expect from my massage?

Many people ask for more and more pressure, even as they curl their toes and wince in discomfort. They are under the mistaken impression that if their therapist just pushes hard enough, she or he can get rid of all their knots in one session. Alas, they are wrong. Not only will your knots not go away if you approach bodywork from this macho perspective, but you will likely end up with new knots on top of the old. The fact is that undoing chronic knots and tension built up over a lifetime takes time and work. Regular massage is an integral part of a well-rounded wellness tool kit, but it is just one piece in that proverbial "balanced diet" that includes exercise, work on your posture, stress management, plenty of water, a good diet, lots of sleep, and finding (and making time for) the things that make you truly happy.

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