Learning to Love Deep-Tissue Massage

I usually avoid deep-tissue massages, as do most people that I know. Why? They aren’t the light-touch, relax, feel-good, fluffy massages that most considered pampering. Deep Tissue is a wellness treatment that focuses on stress release and pain relief; but many of us also tend to “hurt”. My journey into this new relationship with Deep-Tissue was led by Renee Fonseca, a massage therapist and nutritionist at the Pechanga Resort and Spa.

Spa treatment room at the Pechanga Resort and Spa in Temecula, CA © Pechanga

Learning to love a deep tissue massage and reaping the benefits from it is important. Renee informed me that “Most people are under the impression that deep tissue massages are painful, leave bruises, create soreness, and are not relaxing as a massage should be. Believe it or not, deep tissue massage isn’t meant to be deep and painful. It’s meant to heal beyond the initial layer of muscle and break down the under layers as far as the body will allow the therapist to go.”

Communicate. I consider a deep-tissue massage a “working” massage. While you definitely need to relax your body and mind, you also need to talk to your therapist. During a deep tissue massage, the person working out your kinks will probably be more in-tune with your body than you are. Talk about what hurts, what doesn’t, and fess up to your bad habits so that your therapist knows how to work your body. “Don’t be afraid to voice your pain to the massage therapist and ask for a lighter treatment in certain areas. If you are fully relaxed, it is very rare that you’ll feel pain. Deep breathing and a loose, open body helps with anxiety and lets the body go to release tension. You are in full control of your experience.”-Renee Fonseca

Relax. Renee offered the following tips to unwind:
· Relax the shoulders, bringing them farther and farther away from the ears.
· Open your heart by bringing your shoulders back
· Release the tongue from the roof of your mouth
· Release the tension between the eyebrows
· Be conscious of clenching muscles
· Breathe deep — in through the nose for five breaths, out through the nose for five breaths

Trust your therapist. You can’t fight it, or it won’t work. It’s important to be comfortable with your therapist. Trust their movements as they stretch and knead your body. “The key to a successful and relaxing deep tissue massage is how much you can allow your body to relax, along with a massage therapist who is knowledgeable enough to read your body language. The therapists’ goal is to slowly break through the layers of the muscle, releasing tension.”-Renee Fonseca, Pechanga Resort & Spa

Breathe through it. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt some more. Renee’s mantra through the entire massage was “if it’s hurting, that means it needs work”. Trust your therapist and let her do her thing. If your toes are curling, that means the therapist is doing their job.

Massage Treatment at Pechanga Resort © Pechanga

Open up. Renee offered up some advice to maximize the benefits of deep-tissue, “You can get a massage once a week, but it’s not going to do any good, unless you change what you are doing wrong”. After an hour of working with my muscles, she taught me stretches to help open up my shoulders, and combat the slouch that comes with sitting in front of the computer all day, as well as how to keep your body open instead of tight. Adding a few stretches to your morning routine will help to keep your body flexible and chronic tension at bay.

Drink Water. It’s important to drink a lot of water before and after a deep tissue massage, and not just the small cup that your therapist hands you afterwards. When your muscles are tight, they are constricting the circulation in that general area, keeping your body from flushing out waste. Massage will relax the tension in the muscles, which in turn releases the circulatory pathways and allows nitrogenous waste to dump into your system. Drinking water will help your kidneys flush the waste out.

Be Ready for Side Effects. Deep Tissue massage isn’t without side effects. Get ready for possible muscle soreness, headaches, and sleepiness can all creep up on you after a treatment. Drink more water, relax, use the steam room, and take it easy.

Lastly, Renee advises, “To fully benefit from a deep tissue massage, always be mindful of your posture and relaxation and stretch your muscles on a daily basis. Always be aware of what your body needs.”