Deep Tissue Massage: Benefits, Techniques, and how it Provides Muscle Pain Relief

Why Deep Tissue Massage is Good For Sore Muscle Pain Relief

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Ever wondered if deep tissue massage can help with your pain?

Here’s the thing: the healing powers of massage therapy are nothing new.

The ancient Greeks and Romans used it thousands of years ago. And it has been in continuous use throughout the centuries.

But only in the 20th century did the practice really take off. Therapists received training and licenses.  

Perhaps this is partly because one of the touted founders of deep tissue massage, Therese.


Therese C. Pfrimmer testified that she cured her leg paralysis using daily deep tissue massage. She didn’t stop there.

She went on to start a clinic in 1949, offering deep tissue massage.

To date, many practitioners use her book, Muscle – Your Invisible Bonds, as a practice manual. 

Fast forward seventy years later.

The basics of deep tissue massage haven’t changed much. The ideas of longer, slower, and firmer strokes remain the same today.

This therapy for the most part, still, uses no tools.

The only tools involved are the therapists’ thumbs, feet, elbows, and hands to administer massage therapy to patients. 

What is deep tissue massage?

Deep tissue massage (DTM) is a technique of massaging muscles using prolonged pressure and slow movements. 

Its goal is to condition the muscles and connective tissues that are much below the surface.

It’s also local. Why?

Deep tissue massage focuses on the affected area instead of the whole body the way Swedish massage does.

It’s also popular with athletes who strain their muscles and sustain injuries, leading to musculoskeletal problems. 

After an athlete is injured, scar tissue forms. This leads to tension within the musculoskeletal system.

A deep tissue massage helps alleviate the tension by softening the scar tissue. 

This helps the injury will heal faster because of better blood flow. 

What is the difference between deep tissue massage and Swedish massage?

There are some similarities between the two. But there are also differences.


Deep tissue as a technique involves the application of more force on the patient. Swedish massage involves less force. 

Swedish massages are more suited to people who are more interested in relaxing than dealing with an injury. 

People who are recovering from an injury will be more interested in the techniques deep tissue offers.

This is because deep tissue massage promotes proper muscle functions. 

How does deep tissue massage work?

Physiotherapists use sustained pressure on a trigger point when the muscle is fully stretched.

This is called Ischemic compression or trigger point sustained compression. 

The trigger point is the point of tension that causes pain in another area of the body.

As the pain reduces, the physiotherapist can apply greater pressure on the area. Sometimes patients will receive a friction massage, also called deep transverse massage.

Friction massage is effective in dealing with muscle tension and spasms within the muscles and connective tissues.

Deep friction massage helps to keep the ligaments, muscles, and tendons mobile while preventing scar tissue formation. 

Myofascial release targets the fascia, which is the connective tissue that supports all your muscles and organs. When a massage therapist is using myofascial release, they put pressure on the fascial tissue. 

They don’t use any oils or creams. But they do it manually because they need to directly feel for areas that need more or less pressure.

Myofascial release is aimed at reducing pain and helping patients to move better. 

Related: Fat vs Muscle: The Ultimate Guide to Differences & Role in Weight Loss


What are the benefits of deep tissue massage 

1. Relieves chronic back pain

True, deep tissue massage is commonly associated with sports injuries. But the benefits don’t stop there.

The technique is also effective in alleviating chronic lower back pain. 

In 2012, researchers from Poznan University in Poland conducted an experiment. They compared the effects of deep tissue massage and therapeutic massage on chronic lower back pain.

Their findings suggest that deep tissue massage is a better therapy in the management of low back pain.

2. Alleviates high blood pressure

Deep Tissue Massage also helps with managing pain and high blood pressure.

In 2008, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study with some fascinating findings.

The study showed that deep tissue massage therapy reduced blood pressure and heart rate.  

3. Reduces scar tissue

When people get injured, they form scar tissue within their muscles.

Deep tissue massage can help you to reduce the scar tissue by stimulating blood flow. 

When injured athletes undergo deep tissue massage, they experience less inflammation and reduced muscle spasms. More oxygen flows to their muscles. 


4. Manage labor pain

Deep tissue massage can help pregnant women to manage their labor pains. This is because it reduces anxiety and alleviates back pain.

5. Helps manage arthritis

Arthritis patients benefit from deep tissue massage, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

The foundation shows that deep tissue massage works better than other, lighter forms of massage for arthritis pain. 


Deep tissue massage works so well because it focuses on the deeper muscle layers as well as connective tissue.

This is why it helps with chronic pains and stiff necks, lower back, shoulders, and upper back pains

Therapists use slower movements with deeper pressure targeted on affected areas. This helps the therapist to affect the fascia and muscles. 

This is why deep tissue massage works so well with painful muscles. It provides better blood circulation and lowers pain.