Indications and Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

A massage therapy modality, deep tissue massage involves the slow application of progressively deep pressure as the tissues warm, allowing the massage therapist to work deeper. Deep Tissue Massage is often recommended for a client who presents with chronic muscle pain, tension and restricted Fascia (connective tissue surrounding the muscles).

Deep Tissue Massage is synonymous with Therapeutic Massage. The techniques used during a deep tissue massage are designed to achieve a therapeutic result – less pain, decreased muscle tension, increased range of motion.

Techniques are used to mechanically break down scar tissue, soft tissue adhesions and Trigger Points (a hyper-irritable spot in a taut band of muscle that refers pain to another area.)

Common Deep Tissue Techniques


Deep, gliding pressure along the length of the muscle fibers using the elbow, forearm, knuckles, and thumbs.


Pressure applied across the grain of a muscle to release adhesions and realign tissue fibers.1

It is important to note that massage therapists work within the client’s level of comfort. If the amount of pressure being applied is too painful for the client, their muscles will naturally tighten to avoid the pain. This is counterproductive and could cause bruising to soft tissue and prolonged muscle soreness after the massage (clients normally experience muscle soreness 1-2 days after their massage.)

Communication Open communication is imperative to achieving a positive outcome and also empowers the client with the understanding that they can ask for more or less pressure at anytime during their Massage.

Breathing Your Massage Therapist should be guiding you with slow, deep breaths to help you work through the discomfort of deep tissue massage. Your muscles will reflexively relax with this style of breath work and allow the massage therapist to work more effectively.

Contraindications and Precautions

  • Deep Tissue Massage is contraindicated over the area of a blood clot (e.g. thrombophlebitis or deep vein thrombosis), due to the risk that they may become dislodged.
  • Recent surgery to an area – deep tissue, if applied too soon could effect the healing phase
  • chemotherapy, radiation, a client needs to first receive their oncologist’s or surgeon’s approval for massage
  • people with osteoporosis (low bone density) should avoid deeper pressure
  • Massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed or infected skin, skin rashes, unhealed or open wounds, tumors, recent needle injection site


  • deep tissue massage may cause bruising

Deep Tissue Massage is a highly effective option for soft tissue conditions such as Tendinitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome,Low Back Pain, …

Source: 1.