Don’t Skip It! How to Prepare for a Deep Tissue Massage

Susan Hoff
October 19, 2023

Discover why people have been enjoying deep tissue massage for centuries and how to prepare for one.

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You're probably thinking, “What? Prepare for a massage?” and I know, it might sound strange at first, but it’s good to prep to get the most out of a deep tissue massage! Preparing well helps you feel your best throughout the massage and continue to reap the benefits of the massage for as long as possible. Follow my steps to get the most out of a deep tissue massage.

Where did Deep Tissue Massages Come From?

Originating as a therapeutic technique that goes back thousands of years, deep-tissue massage has become one of the most sought-after forms of massage therapy today. First appearing as a healing technique in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, deep tissue massage gained prominence for its ability to address chronic pain, muscle tension, and stress stored in the body as well as the mind. More recently, it has evolved into a specialized form of massage therapy, offering a plethora of benefits to recipients around the world.

So.. What are the Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage is a massage therapy that works by applying sustained pressure using slow, deep strokes to target the inner layers of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues. A few of the benefits of this deep, intentional massage include…

Pain Relief

Deep tissue massage effectively alleviates chronic and short-term pain such as lower back pain, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. For long-term results, massage therapists may prescribe a bi-weekly or monthly massage, especially for chronic conditions that may be harder to shake.

Improved Mobility

Over time, lack of movement and stretching can negatively impact our muscles and joints, adding to stiffness, immobility, pain, and poor blood circulation. By breaking down any muscle adhesions and promoting better blood circulation, deep tissue massage enhances joint flexibility and overall mobility. 

Stress Reduction

This is the one that anyone who has had a massage before can relate to - it seriously lowers your stress levels! Physical touch is so good for us - brain and body - that it can completely cancel out the release of stress hormones, like cortisol.

Postural Improvement

Another fantastic result for those of us who are sitting at a computer all day long: Regular deep tissue massage sessions can correct poor posture by releasing tension in specific muscle groups, leading to better overall alignment and better posture! Did you just sit up a little straighter reading this? You’re on the right track…

Injury Rehabilitation

Whether it’s an old flare-up or a recent sprain, twist, or twinge, deep tissue massage has the potential to bring new healing power to your problem area. Athletes often use deep tissue massage to speed up the healing process of sports-related injuries, and even though you might not be a professional soccer player, your body will definitely thank you for a deep tissue massage with improved healing time and overall flexibility. 

The Risks of Deep Tissue Massages

Like any therapeutic procedure, deep tissue massage is not without its risks. While generally safe, deep tissue massage may cause discomfort or soreness, especially if the therapist applies excessive pressure. In rare cases, individuals with certain health conditions such as blood clots, osteoporosis, or deep vein thrombosis should consult a healthcare professional before opting for deep tissue massage. 

A deep tissue massage is not a lymphatic drainage massage. Read more on how to prepare for a lymphatic drainage massage. Keeping that in mind, here is our advice on how to prepare for a deep tissue massage…

How to Prepare for a Deep Tissue Massage: Step-by-step Guide

Being well-prepared for a deep tissue massage helps ensure a safe, comfortable, and effective experience. Plus, being prepped means you and your body get the most out of the deep tissue massage experience:

  1. Consultation with a Healthcare Provider

Consult your healthcare provider before scheduling a deep tissue massage, especially if you have underlying health issues or concerns. They should be able to answer all of your medical questions.

  1. Choosing a Certified Massage Therapist

Don’t just take any old recommendations from your friends! Do a little digging first. Research and select a certified massage therapist with specific experience in deep tissue massage. Always check their credentials and read recent reviews.

  1. Hydrate and Nourish Your Body 

Drink plenty of water before your massage appointment. This is key because hydration helps in the detoxification process. Deep muscle massage loosens any toxins or build-up within your muscles and releases them into the rest of the body, so it’s crucial that you’re hydrated enough to flush them out naturally. 

Another benefit of hydration is that it prevents or lessens muscle soreness post-massage. It’s also smart to avoid heavy meals before the session, as a full stomach can be very uncomfortable during the massage. Before you begin the massage, don’t forget to use the restroom, as a full bladder under pressure is never comfortable!

Wondering what you should not do before a massage? Don’t sunburn or stress, always use the bathroom, and never take prescription pain medication. Read a more comprehensive list of what not to do before a deep tissue massage here.

  1. Communicate Clearly with Your Therapist

Wondering what to expect before a deep tissue massage? Expectations vary depending on different therapists, but generally, your therapist will ask you a few questions about problem areas. Throughout the entire session, it’s important that you communicate openly with your massage therapist. First, inform them of any pain points, preferences, and any discomfort you might feel during the massage.

  1. Stay Relaxed with Breathing Techniques

Just like in yoga, it’s helpful to practice deep breathing techniques to relax and focus your body and mind. Deep breathing not only enhances the effectiveness of the massage but also helps in managing any discomfort you might experience. Some discomfort during deep tissue massages is natural, especially for first-timers, as it’s very likely that these sensations and areas are new. 

  1. Post-Massage Care

Allow yourself to revel in how you feel post-massage session! Stretch, notice how your body feels, test out your mobility with some poses and arm swinging. Give your body some time to rest and absorb the therapeutic effects. Keep drinking water!

Avoid strenuous activities and give yourself time to relax. If you experience any soreness, consider applying ice or heat to the affected area and keep up gentle stretching exercises to continue to work on the area and expel any toxins. Read through our in-depth guide on what to do after a deep tissue massage.

I’m Susan Hoff, a fitness and lifestyle trainer who specializes in fitness and health resources for women 55+. Whether you’ve been on your fitness journey for years or you’re just starting out, I would like to welcome you to our community of strong, empowered women who want to stay invigorated and keep loving life. Like our Facebook group to join our community and learn more.

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