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Deep Tissue

"Helping you look after your body"

Deep Tissue and Trigger Point massage

What is Deep Tissue massage?

Deep tissue massage is a specific massage, which employs techniques to work below superficial connective tissue with the intent of breaking up old structural patterns and allowing the free flow of nutrients and oxygen to the blood. It requires me to apply firm pressure which in some cases may cause some discomfort to the client. However, I always work within your comfort zone.

I use movements to aid the release of chronic muscle tension through slow and deep strokes, with more direct pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles. Going deeper does not mean applying strength or force. When a therapist tries to force a muscle or uses brute strength, a muscle usually responds with more resistance.

During the massage I will detect restricted tension, or tender areas by determining the quality and texture of the deeper layers of musculature and I will slowly work into these deep layers of muscle tissue. Specific hand positions and strokes are then used to respond to various tissue qualities and muscle attachments. Techniques employing breath and movement are also used for releasing muscular tightness.

Deep tissue also helps to free trapped nerves, oxygenate poorly circulated areas and allow the spine and joints to relax into alignment.
When performing deep tissue work I will establish with you the main areas of discomfort. Utilising your feedback and focused participation by myself the process of working deeply can become painless. Being able to work with your discomfort and the process of releasing the muscle can assist with the healing.

Trigger Point and Neuro–Muscular Technique (NMT) or Ischemic Compression

Whilst massaging I may notice an area of muscle tightness, tension or irregularity. The muscle tissue can feel denser than normal and indeed you may experience pain and or discomfort – often they may refer pain to another area. Referred pain is a defining symptom of a myofascial trigger point.

Additionally, through the use of palpation, I will pinpoint a ‘trigger point’ in a muscle area. Palpating the muscle is carried out very slowly, feeling and exploring the area more thoroughly; usually with a finger or thumb.

If a problem occurs within soft tissue, there can be a gradual change in tone or tension of tissue in that area. This variation in tension is controlled by the nervous system, by way of protecting the area it holds the damaged tissue in a shortened position. If this continues over a period of time this shortened tissue is accepted by the nervous system as ‘normal’ even after the tissue has recovered.

A muscle may be held in a tight position by occupational, emotional, habitual, overuse and or postural factors. As time goes on, this tension can naturally increase, making it uncomfortable to stretch or relax a particular muscle – this causes tension in the surrounding areas as the tissue pulls on surrounding tissues and joints. The individual will instinctively hold this muscle shorter to avoid discomfort until this becomes the new normal level of tension – and so it goes on.

All of this happens through the natural reflex action of the nervous system which is not consciously controlled. I can treat this problem by bringing it into the awareness and consciousness of the nervous system to stimulate recovery.

When deep pressure is applied to a tender spot it will cause discomfort. Deep pressure on the spot will make you aware through the tenderness felt – this usually means that relief will be experienced psychologically, which may stimulate the recovery process.

When pressure is applied to the area, possibly due to the release of endorphins, the area is relaxed and therefore discomfort, and tension are reduced or eliminated. Once the pressure is released, blood carrying oxygen and nutrients rush into the area resulting in relaxation in the restricted muscle tissue.

Once an area has been found, pressure with thumbs or an elbow are slowly and carefully applied – I will ask you to report the level of discomfort on a sliding scale of 1 – 10. 1= feather light and 10 = extremely painful. We are looking at a tolerable level of between 5-7. Too much pressure will cause severe pain and the muscle will tighten; then the technique will not work.

Once the point is found, pressure is applied within your pain tolerance, held for around 60 seconds, released briefly and re-applied.

Trigger Point causes:-

Trigger Points are areas of myofascial tissue (the fibrous tissue that encloses and separates layers of muscles) where the local circulation has been impeded to the extent that they are held in contracture. They can be painful and are characterised by referred pain patterns. The tigger point forms characteristic referral pain patterns for an individual muscle that is held in undue stress for long periods

Trigger Points can cause headaches, neck and jaw pain, low back pain, tennis or golfers elbow, and carpal tunnel syndrome. They are the source of the pain in such joints as the shoulder, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle that is so often mistaken for arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, or ligament injury.

Who would benefit from a deep tissue and trigger point massage

Deep tissue massage and trigger point work is not just for athletes. Many of my clients do not go to the gym or play sports, but their jobs place demands on their bodies in different ways. Those working in the following environments may benefit:

• office workers
• self- employed
• healthcare workers
• trades people
• Anyone with active Jobs
• gym and sports enthusiasts

Poor posture, repetitive work activities and overuse through sports activities, play a crucial role in maintaining trigger point activity. Incorrect sitting and or standing posture and even bad sleeping positions can be a contributing factor in trigger point formation.

Our bodies are put through a lot during our daily activities and deep tissue therapy can be beneficial in keeping you healthy, maintaining a good posture and good range of movement.

Deep tissue massage is not recommended for:

A full body massage should never consist entirely of deep tissue strokes because it would be overwhelming for you and would not achieve therapeutic results. It is important to understand that, although strokes are deep, they are done with caution and confidence.  The depth and quality of muscle release varies for each client and with each session and the effects are usually longer lasting than those of Swedish massage.

• Infections and undiagnosed pain which should be checked by a medical doctor.
• Acute injuries– sprains/ strains within the acute inflammatory stage. Within the first few days of incident, injuries should be avoided.
• Diabetes
• Epilepsy
• Varicose veins.
• Open wounds.
• Areas with sensation loss.
• DVT, deep vein thrombosis
• Eyes. Care should be taken if contact lenses are worn. It may be better to remove them for treatment.
• Tumours. Benign tumours could be stimulated by deep transverse friction.
• Bacterial infections, boils and or inflamed hair follicles.
• Contagious conditions such as: cold sores, fungal infections like athletes foot and ringworm.
• Colds or influenza

If you are thinking of booking an appointment or have one already scheduled and find you have one or more of the conditions listed above, please call before your appointment to discuss the reasons behind these cautions. Other therapeutic options may be available to you.

I can also provide you with a GP referral letter that you can take to your Doctor/Practitioner to enable them to make a decision to whether the therapeutic session can take place.

On your first visit a full confidential consultation will take place with me. (All therapists should adhere to the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998).

Treatments :

When facilitating a deep tissue massage I use either hand over hand, cam and spindle, forearm, elbow, fist and fingers, or knuckles to apply compression or deep pressure to spasmed or tight muscles, fibrous adhesions and/or trigger points in order to bring about a more profound state of relaxation. This technique may include the use of petrissage (specific kneading strokes) and effleurage (smoothing and gliding strokes), which are administered with increasing degrees of pressure, while cautiously monitoring your verbal feedback and body's reflex responses.

The  technique I use requires time and patience to lengthen soften tissue layer by layer and to release holding patterns that are preventing you from relaxing. The emphasis for each deep tissue session is to alter muscle tightness and restriction in order to decrease tension. The goal here is for you to leave the session feeling invigorated and relaxed.


A full body massage should never consist entirely of deep tissue strokes because it would be overwhelming for you and would not achieve therapeutic results. It is important to understand that, although strokes are deep, they are done with caution and confidence.  The depth and quality of muscle release varies for each client and with each session and the effects are usually longer lasting than those of Swedish massage.


Travell and Simons's research has shown that trigger points are the primary cause of pain in  75% of people and are also a part of nearly every pain problem.  A tender spot will cause discomfort and or pain. Once an area has been found, pressure with thumbs or elbow are slowly and carefully applied and always within your pain tolerance. The area is held for approximately 90 seconds, released and re-applied.  I will guide you through breathing exercises that will help with any discomfort.


I treat the upper part of the trapezius muscle the same as the other posterior neck muscles, but  I pay particular attention to the lateral fibres running out to the shoulder joint.  I feel what works well together are deep squeezing and petrissage, as well as deep friction with NMT and stretching.   Along with the upper, middle and lower  trapezius I treat the rhomboid muscles.


An injured rotator cuff or stiff muscles and joints in the shoulder can make it difficult to move your arms, but so can simply sitting in one position for too long. No matter what causes the stiffness or soreness, shoulder massage is an effective way of increasing your range of motion. That's because it increases the supply of fresh blood to your muscles, providing them with oxygen-rich nutrients.

When facilitating a deep tissue massage to your shoulders I work across the grain of your muscles, with PNF* stretches which can provide relief of tension, stiffness and pain.

* Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) is an effective way of using reflexes to assist muscular relaxation.  I use these stretching principles to help muscular strengthening, stability, neuromuscular control, as well as helping with mobility and coordination.






Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a medical physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.