Deep Tissue Massage causes certain physiological changes in the body as it helps with relaxation – a caring, safe touch encourages the muscles to relax. The heart and breathing rate slow, blood pressure goes down, production of stress hormones decreases, and muscles relax. Such relaxation also seems to increase the available level of serotonin a chemical in the body that positively affects emotions and thoughts. This relaxation response may decrease the physical effects stress and the risks associated with stress, such as hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, anxiety, insomnia, persistent fatigue, digestive disorders, and psychological issues – to name a few.
Mechanical responses are physical effects that occur in the body when pressure is applied to the soft tissues. The physical manipulation in massage has two major physical effects. Firstly, an increase in blood and lymph circulation and secondly, relaxation and normalization of the soft tissue (muscle, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments), which releases nerves and deeper connective tissues. Improved circulation can enhance the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells. As cellular health improves, tissues function more efficiently. Massage therapy relaxes muscle tissue, which reduces painful contractions and spasms. Massage can also reduce nerve compression. Touching the skin or applying pressure relaxes muscles, tendons, and ligaments. In addition, while some of the deeper tissues of the body, such as deep spinal musculature, cannot be easily accessed by massage, the release of more superficial layers of muscles may affect these deeper layers. This can lead to both superficial and deep tissues finding a better alignment and balance.
Organs also benefit from massage, as they share neurological pain pathways with muscles, bones, and nerves. For example, low back pain can intensify menstrual cramps and menstrual cramps can cause low back muscles to tense. Massage can therefore improve the functioning of both the organ and the muscles.
What can the client expect at the appointment
At the first appointment the therapist will take a ‘client history’ as well as clarify any condition that may affect the client’s health and comfort. It is possible some conditions will require a physician’s permission before proceeding.
What will happen in a session
A discussion on the client’s desired outcome of the session will determine which parts of the body require massage. A typical full-body session will include work on back, arms, legs, head, neck and shoulders. The client is usually unclothed (to their underpants), they will be covered by towels for warmth, comfort and privacy with only the area being worked on exposed. The muscles are warmed and relaxed with broad, flowing strokes, then as the muscles relax pressure will gradually be increased to both relax and relieve areas of muscular tension. Depending upon what type of massage the client has requested or been recommended, different techniques and massage strokes will be employed – these will include basic rubbing and rocking movements, application of pressure to specific points and more. A light oil is used to allow massage without causing excessive friction. The oil will also hydrate the skin.
How many sessions should the client need before they see a result
Most people feel relaxed after a massage. Some experience freedom from long-term aches and pains. After an initial period of feeling “slowed down”, many experience increased energy and heightened awareness which often lasts for days. Toxins are released from soft tissues during a massage and it is recommended that the client drink a lot of water to clear the system.
What can the Therapy help
Massage may help:
- Aid and correct body posture and balance.
- Reduce muscular tension that leads to structural problems.
- Increase nutrient flow to the bones.
- Improve breathing patterns.
- Respiratory problems such as asthma and coughing.
- Help reduce constipation and eliminate waste.
- Assist relief of spastic colon and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
- Stimulate blood circulation.
- Increase blood and nutrient flow to the cells.
- Stimulate and help cleanse lymphatic tissues.
- Help strengthen the immune system.
- Encourage the elimination of toxins from the body.
- Relieve muscle tension and spasms.
- Increase blood and nutrient supplies to the muscles.
- Eliminate waste such as lactic acid.
- Help restore muscle tone and increase joint flexibility.
- Help balance the nervous system.
- Encourage releasing of withheld and destructive emotions – relaxing and calming.
- Help headaches and insomnia.
- Raise endorphins and promote healing.
Who would benefit from this type of therapy
Massage is generally considered a safe therapy for most people. Certain conditions may preclude massage ie uncontrolled high blood pressure, acute infectious disease, eclampsia, diabetes with complications, intoxication or drug use.