Your Guide to Deep Tissue Massage: St. Pete’s Expert Therapists Share Insights
Have you been curious about deep tissue massage therapy and want to learn more?
We believe in educating our clients so you can make informed decisions about your care anywhere you go.
Deep tissue massage techniques can include everything from Myofascial Rlelase, Neuromuscular Therapy, sports massage, Cupping, deep swedish massage, and IASTM -Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization, or the deepest in our opinion- Ashiatsu- a barefoot deep tissue massage performed by a therapist using gravity and overhead bars for balance.
No natter which therapy you choose, deep tissue massage has many benefits and provides relief by focusing not only on problem areas and reduce pain, but with proper assessment bringing balance and restoring full range of motion to the muscles. Deep tissue massage can help reduce the symptoms of lower back pain, reduce inflammation, and reduce pain from chronic conditions. It is also a complement to other therapies for chronic pain like physical therapy and chiropractic care.
Lets take a look at how deep tissue massage works
We’ll start with a little science…
After injuries to the body, it’s not uncommon for muscles to respond with spasms due to the entrapment or compression of nerves. This is a protective mechanism triggered by your body’s natural response to injury or trauma.
Have you ever experienced a muscle spasm or cramp? There’s little escape. Intense pain can elevate your heart rate and blood pressure, wake you from sleep and even leave you sore for a couple days. This can also occur during deep tissue massages. Your massage therapist is increasing circulation and moving waste products (acids) out of the tissues.
When an injury occurs, such as a sprain, strain, or even direct impact, it can lead to tissue damage and inflammation. In response to this damage, the body’s nervous system sends signals to the affected area, signaling pain and distress. Muscles surrounding the injured area can tense up (spasm) as a protective measure. This muscle tension serves a few purposes:
- Stability: Muscle tension provides stability and support to the injured area. It acts as a sort of natural splint to limit movement and protect the injured tissues from further damage.
- Reducing Movement: By causing muscles to spasm and contract, the body attempts to limit movement in the affected area, preventing excessive strain on the injured tissues and tries to reduce pain. .
- Pain Response: Muscle spasms can also generate pain signals, which is a way for the body to communicate that there’s an issue that requires attention.
In cases where nerves are entrapped or compressed by swelling, tension, or misaligned structures (such as bones or discs), these muscle spasms can become even more pronounced. The body’s attempt to immobilize the area and protect it can lead to increased muscle tension and pressure, which in turn can create a cycle of pain and discomfort.
Old injuries and Improper movement patterns (or more commonly, non-movement) can eventually lead beyond nagging tension and into arthritis and chronic pain disorders.
Don’t worry. We are here to help PREVENT it from going that far. Our mission is to help you break those patterns and re-educate your muscles to function properly AND stay balanced for a lifetime pain free living. We do this by creating the terrain for healing and having a toolbox of skills ready for our clients. We know the body is capable of healing, repairing, rebuilding, and re-learning to move with optimal mobility and comfort. We also know sometimes you need a little help.
Your massage therapist team at Solely are dedicated to their education and continuous training in multiple techniques which we use during our massage therapy sessions. One of the most classic techniques we incorporate is called neuromuscular therapy or neuromuscular massage therapy. These are firm pressure, deep tissue techniques that focuses on releasing myofascial trigger points as part of our treatment.
What conditions does deep tissue massage therapy treat?
Soft tissue injuries – After an injury, calcium rich scar tissue is laid down at the tendonous attachments. While we recover from the injury, scar tissue creates a vulnerability on either side because of the hardening of the tissue. Releasing adhesions caused by scar tissue whether it’s from everyday micro-tears from workouts, or major surgeries. Microtears become fibrous decreasing elasticity and making the joint more prone to future tears and injuries. Soft tissue work with NMT can help increase mobility and function.
Chronic pain from postural imbalances, arthritis, stress, and repetitive use.
Nerve entrapments – Nerves – or the nerve root – can become entrapped in muscle tension and subcutaneous adhesions causing radiating nerve pain down the extremities, also referred to as radiculopathy. Generally, clients with nerve entrapments will move or lean towards the pain for relief.
Even an old injury can contribute to poor posture and imbalances.
These common conditions are examples of nerve pain and treatable with deep tissue massage therapy.
Thoracic outlet syndrome
Adhesive capsulitis/ frozen shoulder
Sciatica (if compression is in the soft tissue- periformis syndrome)
Sprain/ strain (whiplash)
Post surgical conditions
Stress and improvement of overall health – One of the body’s responses to stress and tension and pain is the release of cortisol. Receiving massage and therapeutic bodywork helps calm the nervous system and regulate the adrenal system, helps regulate blood pressure and improves overall function. Massage therapy for pain relief improves the client’s quality of life.
Want to know more?
- Deep tissue massages focus on those deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue in the body. It involves the application of firm pressure and slow strokes and firm pressure to reach the underlying muscles and fascia, which is the dense connective tissue that surrounds muscles and organs.
Here’s a video from Tom Myers about the myofascial system and a sneak peak at one of the concepts your massage therapists at Solely Therapeutic Massage uses in assessment.
- (WARNING: Images of a real human cadaver’s muscles dissected for demonstration)
What are the different techniques used in neuromuscular therapy?
- Most schools of NMT- Neuromuscular Massage Therapy- teach to apply direct pressure to the trigger point itself, but we work a little differently. While plenty of clients LOVE the pain of someone’s thumb digging in, but do you know why? Endorphins.
Our bodies protect us from pain by producing endorphins
Endorphins are natural pain killers with a euphoric effect. Have you ever had a deep pressure massage where the benefits only lasted a few days? You asked for a “deep tissue massage”, and the massage therapist gave you exactly what you wanted- prolonged pressure into those trigger points. The problem with this method is while the client floats out of the office on a cloud nine (and the massage therapist ices their thumbs), little has been done to specifically address adhesions or the surrounding tissues affected by this trigger point. Deep pressure is not the same as deep tissue.
- While this method has its place in neuromuscular re-education and structural work, it generally needs to be coupled with a thorough assessment, more frequent sessions and corrective exercise to effectively re-educate those new muscle patterns. A strictly trigger point massage session will likely have short term effects.
- A highly specialized neuromuscular massage therapist will possess the ability to recognize these patterns and educate their clients and how to change and correct them. With an extra year of training in structural studies, our S.E.T therapists and physical therapy assistants are our most specialized therapists when it comes to assessment and treatment of postural and structural imbalance.
What is the difference between (our) neuromuscular massage therapy and deep tissue massage?
There is a difference between deep tissue and deep pressure.
This form of massage involves an assessment and consultation and health intake prior to the session treating the myofascial trigger points. Neuromuscular therapy and deep tissue massage focuses on first finding the imbalances in the client’s posture, learning the root cause of the dysfunction, restoring the resting length of the muscles and creating a treatment plan with the client.
Other techniques like myofascial cupping, stretching, scraping/ Guasha/IASTM and sports massage using firm pressure will be used to warm the tissue with prior and increase circulation and make the treatment more comfortable. A caring massage therapist will do this before digging in with more firm pressure.
Solely Therapeutic massage is one of St. Petersburg’s primer clinic for medical massage where you can receive the benefits of deep tissue therapies. We offer other massage techniques to relieve pain, and over twenty choices of full body massage.
Trigger points occur in the body where oxygenated blood and nutrients are unable to reach the muscle tissue, and the muscle tissue is unable to diffuse out the waste products continuously being produced creating an acidic condition of the tissues. When tissue metabolism is decreased and acidity increased, our bodies release calcium into the muscles to help neutralize the acids. The body will then encapsulate these acids in this congested tissue and prevent filtration rather than letting acids into the bloodstream. This tissue is considered ischemic. Pain and spasm (contraction) occurs in ischemic muscle tissue from a lack of proper blood and nutrient, and mineral circulation and a trigger point is a symptom of this sustained contraction.
How Do Muscles Become Ischemic?
All of our soft tissue is woven with connective tissue. This is how it keeps its shape (or loses shape, helloo cellulite) This system is called your myofascial system. This cling wrapping inter-connects our tissues as it wraps around every muscle fiber, every organ, and connects us through this webbed system that communicates on a cellular level. Based on this and how scar tissue develops and builds, an injury to one area can change the tone, length, and balance everywhere.
When there is an injury or overuse/ repetitive stress to the muscles, metabolic waste products are produced and begin to build. When metabolic waste and excess calcium are being produced, the tissues then become dehydrated and the fibers can bind together creating a “knot”. These congested tissues prevent the diffusion and filtration of oxygenated blood and nutrients in- and metabolized waste products out.
There are several common misconceptions and questions that people often have about deep tissue massage:
Is Deep Tissue Massage Painful? – One of the most common misconceptions is that deep tissue massage has to be painful. You (the client) are ALWAYS in control of the session. If you ever have a therapist force you to endure pain, they’re a sadist. End the session. You should have an opportunity to consult fully with your therapist who will fully explain techniques and who should have multiple ways to achieve the same result more comfortably.
Why do trigger points hurt to the touch? A few reasons. As the nerves innervate throughout the musculoskeletal system and through muscle fibers, adhesions and scar tissue can entrap and irritate a nerve. When more pressure is applied, pain can radiate down the nerve. This is called ridiculopathy.
Will I Have Bruising? – See above. Some clients worry about potential bruising after a deep tissue massage. While it’s possible to experience mild soreness or redness, bruising is not a typical outcome. Guasha marks are not bruises. Guasha and cupping marks are broken capillaries from the tissue > towards the surface. A bruise is an injury from the surface down.
How Long Will the Effects Last? – The duration of the benefits of deep tissue massage can vary from person to person, but the most successful clients are doing their corrective exercise at at their functional capacity, giving themselves time and focus on recovery, and relaxing after their session.
Is Deep Tissue Massage Suitable for Everyone? – Not everyone is a candidate for deep tissue massage. Individuals with certain medical conditions, injuries, or those on specific medications should consult with a healthcare provider before receiving deep tissue work. Pregnant women, for example, will require a modified approach. If you have an old injury or acute low back pain, or generally low pain threshold, please communicate that with your therapist for modifications. We recommended an integrative swedish massage.
Can One Session Solve Chronic Issues? – Chronic pain or tension often requires multiple sessions to see significant improvement. While clients may experience relief after one session, lasting results typically require consistent treatment and sometimes additional therapies or exercises.
Will Deep Tissue Massage Always Leave Me Sore? – While some post-massage soreness can occur, not everyone experiences it. Soreness can be minimized by staying hydrated, engaging in gentle movement, and allowing your body time to adjust. As the client, your massage therapist expects you to communicate if you need adjustments to the pressure. The massage therapist should be using firm pressure, but not so much your body resists.
How can untreated imbalances and tension lead to poor posture? Since our bodies are masters of compensating, we can change our movement patterns to accommodate for imbalances and injuries further perpetuating this cycle and creating poor posture. Left untreated, these musculoskeletal dysfunction and imbalances can set clients up for the risk of injuries, arthritis, and chronic pain in the future. Sports injuries generally happen because elasticity was not restored before an exercise.
Can Deep Tissue Massage Cause An Emotional Release? – Deep tissue massage on certain areas of the body and the associated discomfort can illicit an emotional release in some clients. While this is not the intention, emotional release and the movement of energy is profoundly beneficial and always welcome.
If you are all ready feeling emotionally sensitive or on edge before your session, please communicate with your therapist on how you may like support if things come up. We want you to feel safe to communicate with your therapist who should be ready to quietly hold space and presence for you.
Client Testimonials: How Deep tissue massage helped:
Is deep tissue therapy or neuromuscular therapy or right for you?
- Since deep tissue massage therapy and neuromuscular massage therapy may be part of any therapeutic session, it is extremely important to be honest and open on your client intake form about your health and identify any contraindications or medications your therapist may need to be aware of.
Some common contraindications include:
- Acute Infections- Systemic or local- Increasing general circulation can exacerbate your condition
- Congestive heart failure– pushing fluid into a system struggling to manage edema. Massage can be done with doctor’s clearance.
- Peripheral Vascular Disease- If the vascular system is not functioning properly, soft tissue work (especially deep tissue massage) could cause more damage
- Strokes- Need a doctor’s clearance based on what type of medicines the client may be on
- Immune deficiencies or disease activity –Deep tissue massage can cause a flare up. Gentle work is fine, generally.
- Advanced osteoporosis- any deep tissue massage is risky for those with brittle, weak bones. Gentle relaxation massage with gentle stretching is an excellent choice and helps keep blood circulation, range of motion, and mobility up.
- Recent Surgery- with the exception of post op manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage after plastic surgery, it is best to wait until you are fully healed as your body is prioritizing healing.
- 1st trimester of pregnancy- We are pushing metabolic wastes into the blood vascular and lymph system putting stress on multiple systems. While gentle Swedish massage is safe, we prefer to wait until the 2nd trimester before any deep tissue massage or therapeutic massage styles. We also avoid endangerment sites and certain acupressure points. Choose a massage therapist educated in pregnancy massage. Solely Therapeutic massage also has multiple body cushioning systems for a safe and comfortable session.
- Renal disease- If the body is unable to filter the metabolic wastes because of limited intake of water, massage is contraindicated.
- Bleeding disorders and blood thinning medications- No deep tissue massage. This includes Alcohol and THC.
- Cancer- Please get clearance from your doctor and if you are undergoing certain treatments, ask about the schedule of when you are able to receive bodywork- if any. I some cases, there is a small window between treatments where you can receive massage therapy.
- Chemotherapy- We wait 3 months post treatment as chemotherapy is fat soluble and can be re-released into the tissues making the client sick.
Neuromuscular Massage Therapy Rates
Neuromuscular massage is included in our Solely Therapeutic Massage and starts at $115 per session which includes extra time for consultation each visit.
Are you looking for deep tissue massage therapy in St. Petersburg, Florida?
Your massage therapy team at Solely Therapeutic Massage looks forward to meeting you and helping you get out of pain and back to living!
- If you are ready to experience deep tissue, corrective neuromuscular massage, or swedish massage book online here!
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- We welcome new clients and request they book a one hour, or one and a half hour service for their first visit. Our booking site is located at www.SolelyMassage.comOur Uptown offices are currently located at:1236 Dr. MLK jr. Street North Saint Petersburg, FL 33705
We are only 25 minutes from South Tampa, Downtown Tampa, and the Tampa Airport.
If you are visiting Tampa, make the trip over to St. Petersburg on the Cross Bay Ferry from the Tampa Convention center and explore our beautiful sunshine city!