Uncovering Deep Tissue Massage: How It Works as a Neck and Back Pain Reliever
We use the expression ‘a pain in the neck’ when we’re annoyed with someone. But if you’re like most people in the UK (8 out of 10, in fact), you’ve literally experienced what the idiom means in the physical sense. Indeed, about one-third of adults already suffer chronic pains, the most commonly affected areas being the neck and back.
The bad news? That pain in the neck (and shoulders and back) will only increase as we continue to spend time on our computers and smartphones and engage in sedentary lifestyles that require less and less physical effort. But who doesn’t use gadgets these days?
Unless you’re living under a rock, surely you’ve enjoyed the merits of technology, despite its effect on your physical well being.
Causes of Neck and Back Pain
What causes neck and back pain? You may not notice it, but the neck has a pretty tough job of supporting the head. The bones at the neck, shoulders and top of the spine work together to hold up around 11 pounds – the weight of a bowling ball – all day long.
Sure, the neck and spine are strong. But they’re quite delicate at the same time. Having poor posture, carrying a heavy purse, or even just sleeping in the wrong position can throw off the balance between bones, muscles and connective tissues which could then result in limited range of motion and the dreaded neck and back pain.
Fortunately, our Greek and Egyptian predecessors thought of ways to relieve these nasty aches and pains and developed the art of massage. The rhythmic kneading, rubbing and stroking motions in massage stimulate blood circulation and eliminate toxins, helping to soothe stiff muscles.
Deep Tissue Massage
While massages are typically designed to relax and rejuvenate the body, the deep tissue massage is a technique that can actually repair muscles and tissues. Sounds intense, right? Well, it is.
From the name itself, deep tissue massage is focused on the deeper layers of connective tissue like fascia to soothe and heal muscles, tissues and joints. Since the massage targets the tension in the connective tissues, it will feel a whole lot more intense than, say, a traditional Swedish or Thai massage.
Strokes are quite firm with varying degrees of pressure, depending on the tightness of the muscles. Patients, professional athletes and massage enthusiasts who want to feel kneaded (pun intended!) swear by its benefits, so much so that the massage has become a popular part of recovery regimens.
What to Expect
If you’re a first-timer, the level of discomfort the massage brings may surprise you, and you may be wary to even try it. Bear in mind, though, that deep tissue massage is meant primarily for healing and rehabilitation, not relaxation. The heightened pressure is intended to penetrate through the layers of muscles and tissues to straighten them out. Discomfort is normal and will definitely be felt if there are tight, knotted muscles.
That is not to say that deep tissue massage is supposed to be painful. Pain is different from discomfort because pain is wholly uncomfortable while discomfort may be described as a ‘good hurt’, a minor twinge that feels good at the same time.
Just be clear with your massage therapist about your comfort level and pain tolerance – before, during and after the massage. Why? Because if you’re not used to the intense pressure, then the therapist can simply arrange for several sessions to gradually introduce the deeper strokes on the neck and back. Some key benefits of this massage include:
Eases stress and tension
Deep tissue massage provides a release of muscular tension through targeting connective tissues directly. Not only that, it releases a hormone called oxytocin – the hormone responsible for creating positive emotions (in case you needed proof that there is joy after pain). Deep tissue massage eases tension both physically and emotionally which could help you recharge and take on everyday activities with more ease.
Rubs away neck and back pain
One of the main reasons people crave massages is chronic pain. Clinical evidence shows that deep tissue massage alleviates this type of pain, as pointed pressure on those persistently contracted areas of the neck, shoulders and back can rehabilitate the wear and tear within these muscle groups.
Improves body’s range of motion
Deep tissue massage has been known to improve range of motion and the overall function of the joints. For instance, studies on arthritis suggest that this massage greatly complements medically prescribed treatments.
Reduces heart rate and lowers blood pressure
A significant benefit of deep tissue massage is that it lowers blood pressure, which could happen when blood circulation is stimulated through the pressured strokes. Research suggests that patients suffering from moderate to severe muscle strain experience lower blood pressure ratings after an hour’s worth of massage. This shows that deep tissue massage could be a part of a holistic approach to treating hypertension.
Ready To Try It?
We offer a full body deep tissue massage which lasts 1 hour and will make you feel like you have been given a new body 🙂
Read more about our deep tissue massage and other massages here.
Due to its rehabilitative nature, deep tissue massage may not be suitable for everyone. Remember that if you have health issues, steer clear of massages in the meantime or get your doctor’s approval first before getting a massage. Some health precautions would include the following: diagnosis of blood clots, bone conditions like osteoporosis, inflamed skin or wounds, and if you have had recent surgeries or chemotherapy.
Deep tissue massage is a proven technique to stimulate and rehabilitate muscles and tissue layers, and it would be a shame not to take advantage of its known benefits. Be prepared for the intensity, but also look forward to that good hurt. Your neck and back will thank you for it. Now keep calm and book a deep tissue massage!