One of the most common questions we answer is "Should I schedule a relaxation massage or a deep tissue massage?". Often, clients assume relaxation means less pressure and deep tissue means more pressure. This doesn't cut it for us for one big, important reason...everyone has different tolerance to pressure! There are many people who do not consider light pressure relaxing, so if that was our definition of the modality, we'd have a lot of unhappy clients. On the flip side, some people need focused work to relieve pain or increase range of motion but not necessarily heavy pressure, and often the sentiment "less is more" really rings true. Different therapists define these sessions in different ways, so, when we set out to define them for our practice we want to make sure the difference was clear, because we want to see that everyone is getting the massage that they need and expect.
We're going to break it down by three categories: goals, techniques, and follow up.
RELAXATION: The main goal of a relaxation massage is… well, to relax. De-stress, deep relaxation, recovery...these are words we think of when we consider our relaxation and recovery massage. Now, don't get it twisted, a relaxation massage is not simple pampering with no therapeutic value. In our high stress world of over-scheduling and burn-out culture, taking the time out to truly zone-in is immensely therapeutic. This kind of massage does more than relieve the symptoms of stress. After fitness competitions, a relaxation & recovery massage decreases inflammatory proteins and increases rebuilding proteins to help you recover faster and easier. This session is often also a good fit if you have been utilizing massage therapy for a long time and are in the maintenance phase, where we're able to get to full body with minor focus' and “tune-ups” to maintain progress achieved.
DEEP TISSUE: An Integrative Deep Tissue massage is typically more focused on a tangible goal, such as pain relief and management, increasing range of motion, or addressing fascial adhesions and restrictions. With a deep tissue session, you have access to all of our techniques and knowledge to problem solve stubborn postural patterns and the lingering effects of injuries. These sessions require communication between client and therapist to attain the most benefit and hone into the most effective therapies for you, because every body this helps you to increase your mind-body awareness which will help is so many facets of injury prevention, exercise, and living daily life without pain.
RELAXATION: During a Relaxation & Recovery massage your Dustin Palmer Bodywork & Massage therapist will mostly use Swedish massage techniques. Examples include, but are not limited to, petrissage (kneading), effleurage (circular/warm up movement), and tapotement (percussive). These techniques increase circulation to tissues, work out general tension and knots, and revives the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). By also increasing muscle re-building proteins, and decreasing inflammatory proteins, relaxation massage relieves DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), that two day sore you feel after a challenging workout, marathon, or competition.
DEEP TISSUE: An Integrative Deep Tissue massage allows for your therapists full repertoire of knowledge and experience to shine. Neuromuscular therapy, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, friction, stretching, cupping, and active resistance are types of modalities you might encounter in your sessions. Having full access to all knowledge and modalities helps create the most time efficient therapy with the flexibility to change things up as healing occurs.
RELAXATION: How often you receive this kind of massage depends on a lot of factors. If you’re using Relaxation & Recovery massage as exercise/competition recovery you may schedule your sessions with your training season and after the actual competition, fitting in a deep tissue massage before competition to relieve any fascial restrictions or hypertense muscles. If you’re utilizing this massage for stress relief benefit, it may depend on how stressful your work or home life is. Some people may be able to spread these sessions out 4, 5, or even 8 weeks, and some clients prefer to come on the dot every two weeks because it keeps them in the frame of mind and body they prefer. Your therapist may offer input to help you choose your length between sessions, but it will mostly be up to you to decide how often you need this kind of session.
DEEP TISSUE: Since most Integrative Deep Tissue clients are working toward a specific bodywork goal, your therapist will have more of an opinion on how often you should come in to reach your bodywork goals safely and effectively. After the first couple of sessions we can see how long the work we’re doing is lasting between appointments, and to what degree progress is regressing. Then we can adjust how often you schedule a massage. Everyone is unique, so your therapy plan will be unique to you. There is usually a treatment phase where sessions are closer together, slowly spreading out as you gain progress toward your goal, then a maintenance phase after your have reached your tangible goals where you are able to come in less often but still reap the same rewards each massage.
If you’re still not sure, no need to stress. Your Dustin Palmer Bodywork & Massage therapist will talk you through finding the appropriate session, and you can always change it up at your appointment. We encourage lots of communication, we want to make sure you’re getting the massage you came to get, so be open with us, and we’ll help you find the right fit. Click here for more information on all of the modalities we offer and to book your session.