Common Misconceptions

Deep Tissue: It probably doesn’t mean what you think.

In my intake process, I ask all my new clients what sorts of bodywork experience they have had, including types of massages they’ve received and liked, the one’s they’ve disliked, how often they tend to get bodywork, and for what purposes (wellness, pampering, injuries, etc).

One of the answers that comes up extremely frequently is “Deep Tissue”, to which I ask, what type? Most people are confused by this question. Over the course of time I’ve been in this vocation, I’ve figured out a pretty succinct way of explaining from my perspective as a bodywork practitioner what Deep Tissue actually means:

Deep Tissue is an intention, not a bodywork modality in and of itself.

Here are just a few Deep Tissue modalities that I utilize in my practice:

Deep Tissue Swedish. This is generally the kind of bodywork people think about when they think deep tissue; The one where the therapist uses their elbows and forearms with the intent of reaching the layers of muscle underneath the big prime movers (like the trapezius and lats) that people tend to be most familiar with.

Range of Motion Mobilization. This is a deep tissue modality when the intent is focused on increasing smoothness in the joins by encouraging synovial fluid flow, just to name one instance.

Trager. A modality characterized by a physical rocking movement which engages proprioception, using your nervous system to communicate with your deeper structures.

And one that I myself don’t use personally, but is the example I most often pose to explain the concept:

Craniosacral. This is an incredibly subtle, trance inducing modality in which the therapists movements are nearly imperceptible to the client, however, the intention is focused upon some of the deepest tissue structures in the human body – the flow of cerebral spinal fluid.

This concept is one of my favorite things to teach my clients. When I come across people who have a strong negative opinion of deep tissue work, most often I have found that explaining this distinction helps them recognize that there is possibility in addressing their deeper structures, even though the deep tissue method (and potentially the administration of said method) they’re accustomed to wasn’t suitable for them.

Are you currently a hater of deep tissue massage because it’s too painful? Perhaps you just haven’t found the right avenue to speak with your deeper structures yet. If you want, I can show you what I mean.

Take care of you,