Callers sometimes ask if I do deep tissue massage. I’m never sure how to answer because the term may not mean to the caller what it means to me.
Most callers actually want to know if I perform therapeutic massage with strong pressure to relieve muscle tension, as opposed to simply offering light strokes for relaxation. That’s not deep tissue, it’s deep pressure. Such terms as light pressure, moderate pressure and deep pressure are used to describe how the massage therapist compresses muscle toward the bone.
Relatively few callers understand that deep tissue massage means working and pushing through the top layer of muscle to access tight muscle fibers or adhesions in deeper muscles. If that sounds uncomfortable, it is.
To increase the confusion, many spas and massage therapists don’t understand the distinction. They may list “deep tissue” on a menu of services when “deep pressure” more accurately describes their service.
Even “deep pressure” is subjective. One client may consider excessive the pressure that is ideal or even a little light for another client. A massage doesn’t have to hurt to be therapeutic, and a good massage therapist adjusts pressure to the client’s comfort.
When a caller asks me about deep tissue work, I try to avoid the word “deep” entirely by explaining that I provide firm pressure for therapeutic benefit. I also identify and release trigger points, a form of deep tissue work, and that is the only deep tissue work I do.