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The Difference Between Deep Tissue Massage and Soft Tissue Massage

Nina Dali Monday, March 1, 2021

Having a massage is a terrific way to get a relaxed feeling. Having the trained hands of a profession masseuse work out the knots in your muscles can also help reduce soreness and tension. 

However, there seems to be a thousand different styles of massage therapy, all claiming to have the best results and benefits. All types of massage are good for making you feel relaxed, getting rid of some stress, and to work out the soreness or stiffness of your muscles.

With any form of therapy there are different schools of thought, different techniques and approaches available. Often the technique used is down to the experience and skill-set of the therapist and what they deem is the most relevant treatment option. In this article we will look at massage therapy and in particular deep tissue or soft tissue.

What’s the difference and which is a better solution?

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage therapy is as you would imagine a type of therapy that focuses on the deep layers of muscle in the body. It works by using slow and firm massage strokes that concentrates the pressure a lot deeper than classic massage therapy. It works by breaking down adhesions, increasing the flow of blood and helping to reduce inflammation.

Deep tissue massage is useful for painful and trouble spots like a sore lower back, or lingering muscle injury. By gently probing your muscles with their fingers, the therapist will seek out knots, fibrous adhesions or other key points. While this is not a forceful massage, the therapist will sometimes use their knuckles and elbows, in addition to their fingers and hands. As a patient, you want to feel relaxed and comfortable with your therapist so you can give them feedback on what you are feeling.

It is particularly effective with those suffering from chronic muscle injury and those who are seeking injury rehabilitation. It is a popular technique with sports massage and can help improve performance.

Soft Tissue Massage

Soft tissue massage is a technique that as you will be able to guess is less intrusive than deep tissue massage. Instead of focusing on slow and pressured movements to affect the deep layers, soft tissue massage focuses on working with a range of depths, pressures and durations.

Soft tissue massage involves direct physical action on the muscle and other soft tissues of your body. Soft tissue techniques such massage targets your muscles, tendons, ligaments, or other connective tissue such as fascia. Massage is the best-known example of a soft tissue technique.

A soft tissue massage includes a whole range of massage depths, pressures and durations. Your remedial massage therapist is a professional who understands what techniques are right for your body at any given time. Your soft tissue massage aims to alleviate aches, pains and injuries that are attributed to your body’s soft tissues.

As a massage therapy it will aim to work with your muscles, tendons, ligaments and will be very similar to the techniques used in deep tissue massage.

It is a useful technique to help relax muscles, increase endorphins, reduce muscle tension and improve blood circulation.

Which is better?

There is little in the way of difference when it comes to these two apart from the depths of the treatment. The techniques used are similar but deep massage will tend to involve longer, slower and higher pressure strokes compared to a larger variety of strokes used in soft tissue.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the answer the question above is not that straightforward. Many therapists will also not just stick to one technique or field of massage and will dip into other areas as and when they are needed. The difference between the two is quite limited and there are similar benefits from both.

When it comes to injury recovery deep tissue massage is certainly the most effective type but on the other hand it can also be quite unnecessary if used at the wrong moment.

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