Deep Tissue, Soft Tissue and Sports Massage

Last updated: June 20th, 2021

Photo by Conscious Design on Unsplash
Photo by Conscious Design on Unsplash

Soft tissue vs Deep Tissue techniques

As with any form of therapy there are different schools of thought. Often the massage technique applied depends on the experience and skill-set of the therapist. And what they deem is the most relevant treatment option to you.

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

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage therapy focuses on the deep layers of muscle in the body. It works by using slow and firm massage strokes. These concentrate the pressure a lot deeper than classic massage therapy. It is effective by:

  • breaking down adhesions,
  • increasing the flow of blood, and
  • reducing inflammation as a result.

Deep tissue massage is particularly effective in the case of:

  • chronic muscle injury
  • injury rehabilitation

It is a popular technique with sports massage and can help improve performance. More details on sports massage below.

Soft Tissue Massage

Soft tissue massage is less intrusive than deep tissue massage. It focuses on working with a range of depths, pressures and durations. Rather than slow and pressured movements to affect the deep layers.

Soft tissues include muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves.

Soft tissue massage aims to:

  • improve the mobility of soft tissues with poor blood circulation, and
  • help mobilise scar tissue, thereby preventing long term recurrence of inflammation.

Which is better?

The answer is not that straightforward. Therapists will not stick to one technique. They apply techniques from both as 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 the most effective type. But it can also be quite unnecessary if used at the wrong moment.

What about sports massage?

A sports massage is an invigorating treatment. It prepares, maintains, enhances performance and prevents injury for athletes.

You do not have to be an athlete to enjoy the benefits of a sports massage. Day-to-day life can cause a chronic build-up of tension in the body. The therapist addresses this tension with deep and soft tissue massage techniques just described.

Using these techniques, a sports massage can help:

  • speed the healing process,
  • prevent further injury,
  • release muscle spasm,
  • reduce scar tissue and adhesions,
  • stretch muscles and connective tissue,
  • increase circulation and improve lymphatic flow,
  • calm the mind and increase awareness,
  • enhance sports performance and activities of daily living.
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