While many believe that Deep Tissue Massage simply means heavy pressure, this is a misconception.  Deep Tissue Massage includes many of the same techniques from its foundation in Swedish massage, but takes it in a different direction with a different purpose. Often times the pressure is deeper, but it doesn’t have to be.  Remember, deeper isn’t always better.  Deep Tissue Massage should be looked at as technique with a purpose, to provide structural and functional outcomes.


Effleurage is the most common stroke in Swedish massage. It is a free-flowing and gliding movement towards the heart, tracing the contours of the body using the palm of one or both hands. Oil is applied with this stroke to begin the first stage of massage. The therapist applies a light or medium constant pressure. This stroke is used to warm up the muscles, relax the body, calm the nerves, improve blood circulation and heart function, and improve lymphatic drainage.
Reflexology is basically a study of how one part of the human body relates to another part of the body. Reflexology practitioners rely on the reflexes map of the feet and hands to all the internal organs and other human body parts. They believe that by applying the appropriate pressure and massage certain spots on the feet and hands, all other body parts could be energized and rejuvenated. This review aimed to revisit the concept of reflexology and examine its effectiveness, practices, and the training for reflexology practitioners. PubMed, SCOPUS, Google Scholar, and SpringerLink databases were utilized to search the following medical subject headings or keywords: foot massage, reflexology, foot reflexotherapy, reflexological treatment, and zone therapy. The articles published for the last 10 years were included. Previous systematic reviews failed to show concrete evidence for any specific effect of reflexology in any conditions. Due to its non-invasive, non-pharmacological complementary nature, reflexology is widely accepted and anecdotal evidence of positive effect reflexology in a variety of health conditions are available. Adequate training for practitioners is necessary to ensure the consistency of service provided.

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Swedish massage helps the body heal itself by physically manipulating and stimulating the body’s circulatory and lymphatic systems. This works to energize and help eliminate toxins in the body. Also, through Swedish massage, a high level of relaxation can often be achieved, and this relaxation can help prepare the body to act as an open, receptive vessel in which healing can more rapidly occur.

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A deep tissue massage can help with small or large muscle injuries or aid in the healing of chronic problems. Deep tissue massage targets deep muscles, tendons, as well as protective and connective tissue known as fascia. It requires total relaxation of superficial muscles, as the lessened tension allows deeper muscles to come into contact and be manipulated (hence "deep tissue massage"). Individuals with chronic muscle tension or injury are more prone to adhesions, or thick "knots" that form in muscle fibers. These adhesions may not only be painful, but can disrupt blood flow and circulation, diminish natural movements, and result in inflammation. Undergoing deep tissue massages helps break down the adhesions and restore proper body functions.
Following injury, and especially if it’s also a very stressful time, inflammation can prevent proper blood flow from reaching damaged tissue and can cut off vital nutrients and oxygen. This can cause toxins to accumulate around damaged tissue, which only increases swelling and pain. Some studies have found that even self-administered massage can help reduce pain associated with plantar fasciitis and other injuries. (10)
If you feel that you would benefit from experiencing a Deep Tissue massage, do some research into local spas around you that offer the treatment. Make sure that your therapist is certified and has been trained in this technique. As always, check with your doctor before giving this massage a try. Be sure to share your concerns with your therapist, go into detail as to what has brought you in to seek the treatment and do not be afraid to speak up if the pressure becomes too uncomfortable. Remember, more pain does not mean the massage is working.

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In the United Kingdom, reflexology is coordinated on a voluntary basis by the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Registrants are required to meet Standards of Proficiency outlined by Profession Specific Boards,[12] but since CNHC is voluntary anyone practicing can describe themselves as a reflexologist. When the CNHC began admitting reflexologists, a skeptic searched for, and found, 14 of them who were claiming efficacy on illnesses. Once pointed out, the CNHC had the claims retracted as it conflicted with the UK's Advertising Standards Authority code.[13]

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A couple’s massage is a massage that you do with your partner, friend, or family member in the same room. It brings all the benefits of a regular massage and sometimes provides you with access to the spa’s hot tubs, saunas, and other facilities. Other treatments such as pedicures, facials, and body scrubs are sometimes offered as part of a package.
The reason the Pressure Question exists is that it’s hard for patients to tell the difference between nasty pain that might be a necessary part of therapy, and ugly pain that is just abusive. Not everything that hurts is therapeutic, but not every therapeutic procedure is painless! How can we tell if an intense massage technique is therapeutic or not? 

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I am a science writer and a former Registered Massage Therapist with a decade of experience treating tough pain cases. I was the Assistant Editor of ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I’ve written hundreds of articles and several books, and I’m known for readable but heavily referenced analysis, with a touch of sass. I am a runner and ultimate player. • more about me • more about PainScience.com
Another theory that may also explain how reflexology can produce pain relief is the gate control theory, or, more recently, the neuromatrix theory of pain. This theory suggests that pain is a subjective experience created by your brain. The brain does this in response to the sensory experience of pain, but it can also work independently of sensory input and create pain in response to emotional or cognitive factors. Thus things that influence the brain, such as your mood or external factors like stress can also affect your experience of pain. According to this theory, reflexology may reduce pain by reducing stress and improving mood.

This content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Josh Axe and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Axe nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

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Research published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness reported findings of a positive trend for deep tissue massages in regard to improved athletic recovery and performance. The most beneficial type of deep tissue massage for athletes is considered to be “sports massage,” which is commonly performed prior to athletic events to help warm the body and prevent injuries or immediately after to improve recovery.

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