What is deep tissue massage?

The two most common requests that I get for massage are for deep tissue massage and trigger point.    A dictionary definition of deep tissue is as follows:

a type of massage which reaches structures far beneath the superficialfascia to attempt to relieve chronic muscle problems or injuries

The confusion comes in with how deep is deep and is deep work always painful?  I have not seen any research which relates the effectiveness of massage to the amount pain the client receives.

From my own experience my back was broken in 1993 after being hit by a car while riding my bicycle.  The result as a compression fraction of T-12 and L-1 no problems but a lot of pain.  I enrolled in massage school in 1994.  I have read Bonnie Prudden’s books “Pain Erasure” and “Myotherapy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide to Pain Free Living” .  Her technique is trigger point and is effective and painful.   Trigger point therapy was effective in relieving muscle spasms in my back.

After a plane flight to Bermuda in 1994 my back was in spasm.  I made and appointment with a massage therapist.  I told him that the spasm would most likely go away if he took his elbow and worked along my belt line.  He said “don’t treat your body like that man we don’t have to be so rough.”  At that point I really did care how but trusted him to do what he thought would work.  By using massage over the trigger point area the muscle spasm released without all of the pain.  It was a real game changer for me.

I thought that maybe my reading of Bonnie Prudden’s work was not accurate.  So I attended her school in Tucson AZ in 2001 for training.  While she was in her 80’s at the time and it was really great to meet her.  After training for three days I liked the methods even less.  I was convinced that there were less painful methods to do deep tissue work.

While I use several techniques to relieve muscle spasm and break up scar tissue optimize nerve and blood.  After 21 years as a therapist I never know which one will work the best.  This is why I do not have different prices for massage, I never know which method will be the most beneficial.  I want my massage to be effective with minimizing pain and discomfort.  By using stretching combined with massage, trigger point and reflexology.