Deep Tissue Massage


Deep tissue massage therapy is similar to Swedish massage, but the deeper pressure is beneficial in releasing chronic muscle tension. The focus is on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons, and fascia (the protective layer surrounding muscles, bones and joints).  Deep tissue massage is aimed at the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and fascia, also called connective tissue. Deep tissue massage uses many of the same movements and techniques as Swedish massage, but the pressure will generally be more intense. It is also a more focused type of massage, as the therapist works to release chronic muscle tension or “knots” (also known as “adhesion’s.”)

What is Deep Tissue Massage and what to expect?

Deep tissue massage is a massage that is designed to get into the connective tissue of the body, rather than just the surface muscles. As a massage therapist when I perform deep tissue I use a variety of techniques to deeply penetrate the muscles and fascia, loosening them and releasing tension. Most clients have a more intense experience with a deep tissue massage, but also feel that it is more beneficial because it addresses deep-seated muscle pains. Deep tissue is beneficial when undertaken on a regular basis so that I can work together with the client to correct long-term problems, relax the body, and prevent injury.

To get a truly good deep tissue massage you need to find someone who specializes in deep tissue, like Nicola.  Most spas have several massage therapists who can offer a basic deep tissue massage integrating a number of techniques and styles customized for your body for maximum impact. Experiment by trying several deep tissue massage therapists to find the one that is the right fit for you and your body.

One of the defining differences between deep tissue and regular massage is the use of tools. A standard massage usually only involves the hands and lower arms of the therapist. During a deep tissue, however,  I use elbows and fingers for deep, penetrating work in the muscle. A deep tissue massage also tends to be very slow, and I will use long, flowing strokes to ease in and out of the muscle. Going in too quickly can cause the muscle to tense up, which is not the desired reaction. I also maintain firm pressure at trouble spots for several minutes to achieve muscle release before moving on to the next area of the body.

When you go to get a deep tissue massage, they should talk with the therapist about any issues you might have and like to see addressed during your massage. I am happy to concentrate on a single body part for an entire massage to achieve lasting results and in fact, half of my clients want just that! It is also important to communicate with me about pain; The massage may be intense, but if a client starts to feel pain, he or she should communicate that immediately. I work on a scale of 1 – 10, where 7 is on the edge and 10 is very painful. A lot of my clients take the deep tissue pain or even like the pain in order to get the quickest results for their body type.  At the end of the session, lots of water should be consumed to help the body express the toxins released during the massage. You will probably be sore for a few days after the intense deep tissue treatment but that’s normal. Remember that ice is your friend.

Deep tissue massage is designed to relieve severe tension in the muscle and the connective tissue or fascia. This type of massage focuses on the muscles located on the surface of the top muscles. Deep tissue massage is often recommended for individuals who experience consistent pain, are involved in a heavy physical activity, such as athletes, and patients who have sustained physical injury. It is also not uncommon for receivers of Deep Tissue Massage to have their pain replaced with a new muscle ache for a day or two. Deep tissue work varies greatly. What one calls deep tissue another will call light. When receiving deep tissue work it is important to communicate what you are feeling.



At Riktr Pro Massage Therapy, specialize in therapeutic massage, which for many people is synonymous with deep tissue massage. That makes sense because deep tissue massage is the most common of the therapeutic massage modalities—and if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.

Therapeutic Massage vs Deep Tissue

Therapeutic massage is a general term that describes any type of massage modality that helps relieve pain, reduce stress, and work on a specific problem—such as a frozen shoulder. People tend to assume therapeutic massage means deep tissue massage, and that they will get a very strong massage. But this is not always the case. Deep tissue massage is great for breaking down scar tissue and getting your blood circulating, but it may not be what you need on a particular day. A good therapist will apply the specific techniques and the right amount of pressure to address your need, and sometimes that’s a lighter touch.

Types of Therapeutic Massage

There are several different types of therapeutic massage in addition to deep tissue massage, such as:

  • neuromuscular massage
  • myofascial massage
  • trigger point therapy
  • sports massage

Many therapists will use a combination of techniques depending on what your body needs. In addition, therapists will often take additional classes in different techniques.

Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

Most of my clients are interested in deep tissue massage, and that makes sense because it is a great way to manage pain. Deep tissue massage—as well as the other therapeutic massage methods—can give you a lot of relief from chronic pain. Many of my clients come in for frozen shoulder treatment and neck pain—two side effects of working on computers all day.

Deep Tissue Side Effects

Many people want to know what the side effects of deep tissue massage are. That’s a great question, and it varies from person to person—and it can even vary for you depending on what’s going on in your body the day you get a massage. Typically, people may feel more muscle soreness for a day or two after the massage, especially if the therapist gives you a strong massage. A deep tissue massage shouldn’t cause horrible pain—and if it does you need to tell your therapist you need less pressure. However, if they’ve been working your muscles, you will probably feel it as the toxins leave your body.

Another side effect is a feeling of disorientation when the massage is over (we call it massage drunk). You may be a little light headed and out of it. That’s very normal. Just sit in the lobby and drink some water until the feeling passes! You’ll usually be fine in 10 to 15 minutes.

Finally, a deep tissue massage will leave you dehydrated. That’s why your therapist gives you water when it’s over. It is very important to drink plenty of water after a therapeutic massage.

What is Nicola’s Special Professional Fitness Massage for Santa Barbara and Goleta athlete’s?

It’s a combination of Deep Tissue Massage, Sports Massage and Swedish Massage. I recommend at least a 1 1/2 hour session to get you tuned back up. Depending on your specific issues you may need more massage sessions.

What are the Benefits of a Fitness Massage?

  • Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
  • Flush out the lactic acid in your legs and body.
  • Ease medication dependence.
  • Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body’s natural defense system.
  • Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
  • Help athletes of any level prepare for and recover from, strenuous workouts or hikes.
  • Improve the condition of the body’s largest organ—the skin.
  • Increase joint flexibility.
  • Lessen depression and anxiety.
  • Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
  • Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
  • Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
  • Reduce spasms and cramping.
  • Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
  • Release endorphins-amino acids that work as the body’s natural painkiller.
  • Relieve migraine pain.

What is Sports Massage and Injury Massage?

Sports Massage

Sports Massage – Sports massage is designed to enhance athletic performance and recovery. There are three contexts in which sports massage can be useful to an athlete: pre-event, post-event, and injury treatment. It’s more vigorous than a Swedish Massage.

The purpose of sports massage therapy is to help alleviate the stress and tension which builds up in the body’s soft tissues during physical activity. Where minor injuries and lesions occur, due to overexertion and/or overuse, massage can break them down quickly and effectively. Above all, it can help prevent those bothersome injuries that so often get in the way of performance and your athletic goals, whether one is an athlete,  or a once a week jogger.

This treatment is not just for the sportsperson: anyone can benefit from sports massage, including people in physically demanding jobs and those not quite so obvious (occupational, emotional and postural stress may produce many similar characteristics to sports injuries).

Sports massage tends to be deeper and more intense. It is based on the various elements of Swedish massage and often incorporates a combination of other techniques involving stretching, compression, friction, toning, and trigger point response techniques similar to Acupressure and Shiatsu. A skilled therapist brings together this blend of techniques, knowledge, and advice during treatment, to work effectively with the client to bring about optimum performance and to provide injury-free training and minimize post-event injuries.

Sports Massage is best administered 1 /1/2 hours before your event or 1 1/2 hours after your event.

Injury Massage

This type of massage helps to relieve pain, stimulate circulation, and loosen trigger points caused by a recent injury. This technique focuses on individual muscles rather than muscle groups, allowing your soft tissue to become more mobile/elastic. It can help free the body of spasm and pain, increase its range of motion, and help prevent future injuries.

Can Injury Massage be painful?

It is important to communicate to the therapist when things hurt and if any soreness or pain you experience is outside your comfort range. There is usually some stiffness or pain after a deep tissue massage, but it should subside within a day or so.

At certain points during the massage, most people find there is usually some discomfort and pain.

Injury tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, such as chronic muscle pain, injury rehabilitation, and the following conditions:

  • Chronic pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Limited mobility
  • Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, falls, sports injury)
  • Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Postural problems
  • Muscle tension in the hamstrings, glutes, IT band, legs, quadriceps, rhomboids, upper back
  • Osteoarthritis pain
  • Sciatica
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Tennis elbow
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Muscle tension or spasm
  • After a workout or bodybuilding

According to Consumer Reports magazine, 34,000 people ranked deep tissue massage more effective in relieving osteoarthritis pain than physical therapy, exercise, prescription medications, chiropractic, acupuncture, diet, glucosamine and over-the-counter drugs.

Deep tissue massage also received a top ranking for fibromyalgia pain. People often notice an improved range of motion immediately after a deep tissue massage.


What is massage?

 Massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing and manipulating your skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Massage may range from light stroking to deep pressure. There are many different types of massage, including these common types:
  • Swedish massage. This is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to help relax and energize you.
  • Deep massage. This massage technique uses slower, more-forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, commonly to help with muscle damage from injuries.
  • Sports massage. This is similar to Swedish massage, but it’s geared toward people involved in sports activities to help prevent or treat injuries.
  • Trigger point massage. This massage focuses on areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse.

Benefits of massage

 Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It’s increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations.

Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.

While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage may also be helpful for:

  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia related to stress
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Temporomandibular joint pain

Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or diseases, some people enjoy massage because it often produces feelings of caring, comfort, and connection.

Despite its benefits, massage isn’t meant as a replacement for regular medical care. Let your doctor know you’re trying massage and be sure to follow any standard treatment plans you have.

Risks of massage

 Most people can benefit from massage. However, massage may not be appropriate if you have:
  • Bleeding disorders or take blood-thinning medication
  • Burns or healing wounds
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Fractures
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • Severe thrombocytopenia

Discuss the pros and cons of massage with your doctor, especially if you are pregnant or you have cancer or unexplained pain.

Some forms of massage can leave you feeling a bit sore the next day. But massage shouldn’t ordinarily be painful or uncomfortable. If any part of your massage doesn’t feel right or is painful, speak up right away. Most serious problems come from too much pressure during massage.

What is a Sports Flush, Sports Flushing Massage?

It was also thought that sports massage was the magic bullet for flushing out that lactic acid. As it turns out, lactic acid (or blood lactate) is a natural by-product of any muscular activity, such as running or cycling. … He suggests that one should stop exercising before their muscles start to hurt.

Sports Recovery Time

Firstly, pre-event:

Pre-event massage: the objective is to stimulate the body’s systems, increase blood flow, loosen body tissues, lubricate joints. Also, not well known is that the pre-event rub down facilitates the athlete’s need to focus mentally on the task at hand while keeping their body “ticking over” so to speak. Conversation is left to the athlete’s discretion.

Temperate is brisk. Depth is moderate to light, rarely deep. Treatment duration does not exceed 20 min. Given the option, err on the side of doing too little rather than too much. You can always “do more.” should the athlete so request. Manipulations are, typically kneading, compressions, picking up, tapotement, shaking, rocking out of synch with the body’s natural movement, joint vibrations/light mobs. Avoid longitudinal stokes except with very light pressure. Experience suggests this may reinforce holding patterns. Compressions serve to assist “flushing” of the tissues given the anatomy of veins with their one-way valves.

Avoid “out there” techniques. Unless you know your athlete and their needs well, work within the scope of general Swedish massage (as per the prementioned manipulations). This is about the athlete, not the therapist’s ego.

Minimal or preferably no lotion/oil is used, which applies to all phases of Sports Massage. Not only does this lighten your luggage, but there are other considerations

  1. The athlete’s perspiration pores are not clogged
  2. Lotion may affect how the athlete engages with their equipment, exercise medium.
    I.e. holding an oar/javelin, levering the hand through the water
  3. Athlete does not feel sticky/oily, especially when perspiring


The objective here is to bring the body down to a resting physiological state, hasten recovery, minimise delayed onset muscle soreness, reduce tissue holding patterns and flush out waste products. Psychologically this is an opportunity to enhance the athlete’s need to tune in to the required “headspace” after competing while being physically passive. Once again, the therapist leaves conversation entirely up to the athlete.

As per the pre-event warm up massage, the post-event rub down augments rather than replaces the active physiological cooldown. However, for an exhausting event, the skilled hands of a therapist will serve well to replace the cooldown under those extreme circumstances.

Treatment duration depends on the number of athletes who require your attention and the needs of the athlete. There is no physiological time limitation. Rate/tempo is slow; though some therapists do choose to begin faster and slow down as they proceed. The depth is largely determined by the athlete’s status – more strenuous the event, the lighter the pressure. Manipulations areas for pre-event. Rocking this time will be in synchrony
with the body. Once again compressions will serve to flush the tissue of waste products
so longitudinal strokes are unnecessary.

Rules of orthopedics apply. Be alert for possible injuries. Your client and/or your palpations may forewarn you as much. Massaging an acute injury is tantamount to gross negligence.

Massage between events

This typically occurs for events such as Decathlon, or between quarters/sets in some sports. The physics of warming up and cooling down require energy expenditure and wear and tear on the body – valuable commodities best left for the competition. Hence the therapist can, by doing massage between events, minimise this excess “expenditure”
and “wear and tear” by the athlete, while keeping the athlete’s body “ticking over”. Objectives once again are to minimize holding patterns, flush out waste products, and reduce stiffening. Parameters are as for pre-event. The therapist should be cautious not to overstimulate before an event such as “high jump” which requires precision and coordination. The tempo must be adjusted accordingly.

Can Sports Flush Massage Really Flush Out Lactic Acid?

It was long believed that lactic acid build up was the main reason your muscles got sore and tired shortly after a heavy workout (delayed onset muscle soreness- DOMS).  It was also thought that sports massage was the magic bullet for flushing out that lactic acid.

As it turns out, lactic acid (or blood lactate) is a natural by-product of any muscular activity, such as running or cycling.  It provides an energy source for working muscles and helps in the process of wound repair and regeneration.

By the time the athlete is lying on the massage table, the lactic acid has already left the muscles.  So how does one explain all that post-exercise muscle soreness?  According to Sports Medicine specialist, Dr. Gabe Mirkin, “next day muscle soreness is caused by damage to the muscle fibers themselves.”  He suggests that one should stop exercising before their muscles start to hurt. That burning sensation is the nervous system’s way of alerting you that your muscles are running out of energy, and if you push them anymore, you will inevitably experience DOMS.

However, if you do experience the muscle fatigue and soreness, there’s good news! Current research supports that massage can be effective in reducing DOMS.





*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *