Deep Tissue Massage: Purpose, Benefits, Side Effects, Cost, Time to Work

Ms. Thula Chelvan
Published at: 19/4/2024

Deep Tissue Massage: Purpose, Benefits, Side Effects, Cost, Time to Work

Key Takeaways

  • Deep tissue massage targets the inner layers of your muscles, offering relief from chronic muscle tension and pain.

  • It can increase blood flow, reduce stress, and help heal injured muscles.

  • Deep tissue massage is generally safe, but it can cause temporary soreness and isn't suitable for everyone.

  • The cost of a session can vary based on location, length, and the expertise of the therapist, but it typically ranges from $60 to $150.

  • Some benefits can be felt immediately, but regular sessions are recommended for long-term improvement.

What Is The Purpose of Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage is a specialized massage technique that focuses on relieving tension in the deeper layers of your muscle tissue, fascia (the connective tissue that surrounds muscles), and tendons. Unlike a relaxing Swedish massage, deep tissue massage utilizes slower, more forceful strokes and direct pressure to target specific areas of chronic tightness and pain.

How is Deep Tissue Massage Performed?

A deep tissue massage session typically begins with lighter strokes to warm up the muscles and prepare them for deeper work. The massage therapist will then use their hands, elbows, and forearms to apply firm, concentrated pressure to targeted areas. Communication is key throughout the session, so be sure to let the therapist know if the pressure is too intense or uncomfortable.

Deep Tissue Massage: Purpose, Benefits, Side Effects, Cost, Time to WorkConditions Deep Tissue Massage Can Help Manage

Here are some health conditions that deep tissue massage may improve: 

  • Chronic Muscle Tension: Deep tissue massage excels at breaking down knots and adhesions (areas where muscle fibers have become stuck together) that contribute to chronic muscle tension. This tension can arise from repetitive activities, poor posture, or stress.

  • Sports Injuries: Athletes frequently experience muscle strains, tears, and inflammation. Deep tissue massage can help reduce swelling, improve blood flow to the injured area, and promote faster muscle healing.

  • Chronic Pain: By targeting the deeper layers of tissues, deep tissue massage can help manage pain associated with conditions like fibromyalgia, plantar fasciitis, and sciatica. Additionally, some studies suggest it may benefit people with high blood pressure and tennis elbow.

Deep Tissue Massage vs Soft Tissue Massage

Now, let’s see the differences between deep tissue massage and soft tissue massage.


Deep Tissue Massage

Soft Tissue Massage


Focuses on realigning the deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. Slow, firm strokes are used to target the inner layers of muscles and connective tissue.

Focuses on the superficial layers of muscles. Lighter, faster strokes are used to release tension and promote relaxation.


More intense pressure is applied during deep tissue massage. The therapist uses slow strokes and deep finger pressure to reach the deepest layers of muscle tissue.

Soft tissue massage uses lighter pressure, focusing on the surface layers of the muscles.


The main goal of deep tissue massage is to release chronic tension in the body, relieve pain, and improve mobility. It is often used to treat conditions such as chronic pain, muscle strain, and sports injuries.

The goal of soft tissue massage is to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve circulation. It is often used as a form of relaxation or to complement other forms of therapy.

Areas of Focus

Deep tissue massage focuses on specific areas of the body where there is chronic tension or pain. The therapist will use targeted techniques to release tension in these areas.

Soft tissue massage can be performed on the entire body, with the therapist focusing on areas of tension or discomfort.


Deep tissue massage can be painful, as the therapist applies deep pressure to the muscles. However, the pain should be manageable and subside after the massage.

Soft tissue massage should not be painful. If it is, the therapist should adjust the pressure to make it more comfortable.

Recovery Time

Deep tissue massage can leave the body feeling sore for a few days after the massage. It is important to drink plenty of water and rest to help the body recover.

Soft tissue massage does not typically cause soreness, and recovery time is minimal.


Deep tissue massage is not recommended for people with certain medical conditions, such as blood clots, open wounds, or inflammation. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider before receiving a deep tissue massage.

Soft tissue massage is generally safe for most people, but it is not recommended for people with certain medical conditions, such as deep vein thrombosis or skin conditions.

Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

Enhances Blood Flow

One of the most notable advantages of deep tissue massage is enhanced blood flow. Increased circulation delivers more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, which can expedite healing and decrease the amount of time it takes to recover after physical activity.

Alleviates Stress and Anxiety

Although deep tissue massage is a physical technique, its benefits extend beyond the physical realm. The calming power of human touch can significantly lower your stress and anxiety levels, leaving you feeling mentally rejuvenated and prepared to face life's obstacles.

Potential Side Effects of Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage comes with many positive aspects, but it's also essential to know the possible negative outcomes. These effects are usually not severe and don't last long, but it's good to know them beforehand. They include:

Short-term Discomfort

Following treatment, you may experience some discomfort for a couple of days. This is to be expected and often indicates that the massage has penetrated deep muscle layers. Drinking lots of water and having a hot bath can help ease this discomfort.

Special Considerations for Certain Health Problems

Deep tissue massage may not be the right choice for everyone, especially if you're dealing with health issues such as high blood pressure, blood clotting disorders, osteoporosis, or cancer.

  • High blood pressure: Avoid deep tissue massage because the vigorous nature of deep tissue massage can lead to increased blood flow and circulation, which may not be suitable for individuals with high blood pressure as it can further elevate blood pressure levels.

  • Blood clotting disorder: Avoid deep tissue massage because intense pressure used to reach the deeper layers of muscle tissue can potentially dislodge blood clots or increase the risk of clot formation, especially in individuals with existing clotting disorders.

  • Osteoporosis: Avoid deep tissue massage because firm pressure used may cause a fracture

  • Cancer: Patients with cancer cannot go for deep tissue massage because of the risk of lymphedema, which is a condition characterized by the accumulation of lymph fluid in the body's tissues, leading to swelling. Deep tissue massage can potentially dislodge blood clots or increase the risk of clot formation, which is a concern for cancer patients who may be at a higher risk of developing blood clots due to their condition or treatment. Additionally, deep tissue massage can be too intense for patients with cancer, who may be experiencing pain, fatigue, or other symptoms related to their disease or treatment

Cost of Deep Tissue Massage

On average, a deep tissue massage can cost anywhere from $60 to $150. However, prices may be higher in larger cities or at high-end clinics, so it's best to check the prices before you go.

How Long Does It Take for Deep Tissue Massage to Work?

Deep tissue massage can provide relief immediately or over a period of time. Let's compare timeframes for complete relief:

Short-Term Vs Long-Term Gains

While you might feel more relaxed and content right after your massage, the more profound advantages, such as pain reduction and muscle recovery, might take a few days to kick in.

How Often Should You Get a Deep Tissue Massage?

To see the best results, you might need to schedule several appointments. Your massage therapist might recommend starting off with weekly massages, and then changing the schedule based on how your body reacts. The most important thing is to keep a regular schedule.

MSK Doctors For Your Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage can be a powerful addition to your wellness routine. It is a targeted therapy that works to release chronic tension in muscles and fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds them. By addressing these deeper layers of tension, deep-tissue massage can help improve flexibility, reduce pain, and enhance your overall sense of well-being. Additionally, deep tissue massage can promote relaxation and stress relief, further contributing to your holistic health.

At MSKDoctors, we understand the importance of a comprehensive approach to musculoskeletal (MSK) health. While we don't offer deep tissue massage directly, our network of MSK experts can provide a variety of treatments tailored to your musculoskeletal needs. These treatments may include physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, and other modalities that can effectively address pain, stiffness, and other MSK concerns.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards feeling your best.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How Does Deep Tissue Massage Differ from Other Massage Techniques?

The distinguishing feature of deep tissue massage is that it targets the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons, and fascia, which are often the root of chronic pain and tension. In contrast to other forms of massage like soft tissue massage that focus on relaxation, deep tissue massage is therapeutic and seeks to address underlying physical problems.

Who Should Avoid Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage can be a great tool for many, but it isn't for everyone. If you have certain medical conditions, like acute inflammation, osteoporosis, or high blood pressure, you should talk to your doctor before booking a session.

Is Deep Tissue Massage Effective for Migraines?

Indeed, deep tissue massage can be beneficial for some individuals in managing their migraine symptoms. It can alleviate muscle tension and enhance circulation, which can potentially decrease the frequency and intensity of migraine episodes. Nonetheless, it is crucial to engage a therapist who has experience in dealing with clients who suffer from migraines.

What's the Ideal Frequency for Deep Tissue Massage Sessions?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to how often you should get a deep tissue massage. It really depends on your personal situation and objectives. Some people might need to go every week, while others will do just fine with biweekly or even monthly sessions. We're here to help you figure out what works best for you.

How to Maintain the Benefits of a Deep Tissue Massage?

Maintaining the benefits of your deep tissue massage requires you to drink plenty of water, do some light stretching, and follow any specific aftercare instructions from your massage therapist. Also, getting massages regularly can help keep the benefits going.


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