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I was recently at a forum with twelve massage therapists from across the county, in various stages of their massage careers. Our opinions varied on different topics but one thing we agreed on: we dislike, possibly HATE, the term “Deep Tissue.” We would like to eliminate it from the vocabulary of everyone we know. Why? The general population doesn’t really know what it means. So I’m going to try to offer up a little education.

Full disclosure: I simply don’t believe in the “no pain no gain” approach to massage. Some people want it to hurt. They think it needs to hurt to work. I beg to differ. I have been complimented for giving a very intuitive massage and I pride myself on listening to the client’s body. A client recently said to me, “It’s like you know it’s going to hurt before I do.” Yes, I do. Because your body tells me and it tells me more than you think. For example, if your muscle kicks me off (I’ve had muscles practically buck me off like a bucking bronco!), and I force my elbow in anyway, your muscles are going to seize up. They do this because they think you are in danger and they are trying to protect you. The massage will be ineffective because your muscle is fighting against the elongation I’m trying to achieve. The more relaxed you are, the more your muscles trust me, the deeper I can go.

But what is Deep Tissue Massage. Basically, it’s massage that reaches the deeper layers of muscle tissue and fascia. Duh, Erin, that’s what the NAME says. True, but the real question is how does a therapist get to those muscles? Deep Tissue techniques are supposed to be very slow and use light lubrication. That’s all great too, but to get to the deeper layers, we have to work through the upper layers. Stop for a minute and think about it. That includes any superficial muscles, the fascia, and all other tissue obstacles. If we can’t get through the upper layers, how do we get to the deeper layers? A true deep tissue massage would take many, many HOURS.  In addition, forcing myself into your body can hurt ME. As much leverage as I may be able to use, if your back is like a cinder block wall, and I’m just digging in, there’s a good chance I’m going to strain an elbow, hurt my back, or blow out a thumb.

What about your Ashiatsu deep tissue massage, Erin, you big talker, you? Ahhh, I’m so glad you asked. The beauty of Ashiatsu is that it can soften superficial tissue faster, AND reach the deeper tissue without the pointy elbows and bony forearms. So? Remember when I mentioned your muscles will seize up to protect you if they think you are in danger? The gliding motions of the Ashiatsu massage keep you and your body relaxed and your body will ALLOW me to access deeper tissue. Plus, this advanced technique allows me to give you the pressure you desire without hurting myself. It’s a win-win in the world of Deep Tissue that looks like it’s here to stay.