Background: Deep tissue massage is a massage technique that focuses on the deeper layers of muscle tissue. It aims to release the chronic tension in the body through slow strokes and deep finger pressure on the contracted areas, either following or going across the fibers of the muscles, tendons and fascia.
Deep tissue massage uses many of the same movements and techniques as Swedish massage, a more superficial massage, but the pressure is generally stronger.
People use this for...
Safety Safety definitions
Pregnancy: There is insufficient reliable evidence about the safety of deep tissue massage in pregnancy; avoid using.
Lactation: There is insufficient reliable evidence about the safety of deep tissue massage in lactation; however, there is no reason to expect safety issues with this massage technique.
Effectiveness Effectiveness definitions
There is insufficient evidence available about the effectiveness of deep tissue massage.
Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Dosing & administration
Neurologic/CNS: There is a case of posterior interosseous nerve compression syndrome after deep tissue massage administration.
Genitourinary: There is a case of a displaced ureteral stent from deep tissue massage.
General: Patients may feel sore for a few days after a deep tissue massage, but it typically subsides within a day or two.
Hematologic: There is a case of a hepatic hematoma after deep tissue massage.
Interactions with pharmaceuticals
Interactions with herbs & supplements
Interactions with foods
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Interactions with diseases
BROKEN, DAMAGED SKIN: Avoid administering to those with infectious skin diseases, rashes, or open wounds. Deep tissue massage may worsen broken or damaged skin.
CLOTTING DISORDERS: Avoid administering to patients that are prone to blood clots. Theoretically deep tissue massage may worsen this condition.
SURGERY: Avoid administering deep tissue massage immediately after surgery, as it may interfere with the healing process.
Mechanism of action
It is theorized that tense or stressed muscles do not efficiently utilize oxygen and nutrients. This may lead to muscle inflammation and accumulation of toxins in the muscle tissue.
Proponents of deep tissue massage state that it loosens muscle tissues, releases toxins from muscles, and helps blood and oxygen to circulate properly. Theoretically, this may help relieve pain and improve muscular mobility. After a deep tissue massage session, massage therapists recommend that their clients drink plenty of water to help eliminate toxins that are thought to be released from the body.