Many claims are made regarding the physical benefits of massage, including that massage dilates superficial blood vessels, increases the rate of blood and lymph flow, reduces muscle spasm and muscle soreness, and accelerates physical repair
We can explain the theoretical processes behind these kinds of physiological benefits, but it is generally acknowledged that there is a lack of sufficient scientific evidence to endorse all these claimsLack of clear massage protocols and varying methodologies are just
some of the difficulties inherent to carrying out research on this form of therapy
One of the challenges to the scientific study of massage (including deep tissue massage) is the wide variety of applications that massage may takeEffleurage and petrissage are the massage strokes commonly used in research on the subject, but the protocols for their use are rarely stipulatedHowever, one sympathizes with those to whom the research task falls.
As anyone who has ever tried to write out a simple recipe for a friend will tell you, even a minor change in quantities, qualities, or procedures can produce dramatically different results
Do you whisk the milk and then add the flour? Or add the flour
and then whisk? Does it matter if you whisk while adding the flour at the same time? For how long do you whisk? a few minutes or until the flour is dispersed?
What if the flour is not dispersed after a few minutes? have you added too much flour or whisked too little? It is hardly surprising that research findings for massage interventions vary.
After all, with deep tissue massage, how deep is deep? Nevertheless, we are gradually piecing together a clearer understanding of the physiological effects of massageResearch has tended to focus on physiological parameters, perhaps because you don’t have to be Einstein to know that unless you are in the hands of a complete sadist, receiving a massage is supposed to feel good and is thus likely to increase your sense of well-beingIn a world bent on evidence-based practice, it is reasonable to expect the quest for quantitative data on the use of massage in all of its forms to continue
Currently, a large body of evidence including the beliefs and experiences of therapists who provide deep tissue massage and the clients who receive it—supports some of the claimed benefits of deep tissue massageListed here are some of the benefits of deep tissue massage observed by therapists who use the technique
Also listed are benefits for therapists considering using the techniques described in this guide.
Benefits for the Client
- Temporary compression of tissues might facilitate an increase in blood flow to areas that were previously ischaemic.
- Deep tissue massage is useful for improving joint range of movement, especially when stretching techniques are employed.
- Deep tissue massage helps with the treatment of trigger points.
- The stillness of the compressive techniques might facilitate acclimatization, which is useful at the start of treatment.
- Deep tissue massage might increase blood flow to an area before treatment.
- Deep tissue massage decreases tone in muscles.
- Deep tissue massage stretches muscle and fascia.
- Techniques such as stripping might be helpful for improving muscle function, especially when previously damaged muscle fibers have adversely adhered to collagen.
- Deep tissue massage can assist in the treatment of cramping.
- Deep tissue massage helps address issues of muscle imbalance by helping to lengthen targeted muscles.
- Deep tissue massage is a pleasurable sensation for clients who like deep pressure.
- Some of the stretching techniques are particularly useful for clients who like to be actively engaged in their treatment (such as many athletes).
Benefits for the Therapist
- Deep tissue massage provides the therapist with an additional treatment tool; being qualified to offer deep tissue massage in addition to Swedish or holistic massage might increase a therapist’s client base.
- Deep tissue massage might be a less strenuous way to apply massage because it relies more on body weight and leverage than on movement or strength.
- Being able to apply (all) compressive and (some) stretching techniques through clothing or a towel means the therapist can treat some clients unable to receive oil massage.
- The therapist can treat clients in offices, through clothing, perhaps incorporating and adapting some of the techniques into a chair massage routine.
- Focusing on areas of tension and avoiding bony structures helps develop palpatory skills.
- Using forearms, fists, and elbows means the therapist is less likely to suffer overuse injuries of the fingers, thumb, and wrist joints.
- Deep tissue massage is safer for therapists who are hypermobile in their upper limb joints.