Sports Massage Therapy

How Rough is a Deep Tissue Massage?

Breeze Academy October 18, 2023
Deep tissue massage on back

If you want a high quality deep tissue massage, then you must be aware of the amount of pressure required for your needs. In this blog, we discuss what to expect during a deep tissue massage and the importance of clear communication with your Massage Therapist. So how rough is a deep tissue massage?

Feeling sore is normal after a deep tissue massage, however you shouldn’t feel pain. If the massage is painful, ask your Massage Therapist to stop and re-assess how much pressure is being applied. Open communication with your Massage Therapist will allow you to achieve your requirements in a safe way.

Read on to find out how rough deep tissue massage is, how to prepare and how to recover. 

Is a Deep Tissue Massage Painful?

It is normal to feel sore after a deep tissue massage, especially if it is your first session. It should not feel painful during the session, however, it may involve tough pressure on muscles that are not often manipulated in that way so some discomfort is expected. This pain is often described to feel like you have completed intense exercise, commonly referred to as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). You should be honest about any pain you feel during sessions and ask your Massage Therapist to adjust the amount of pressure applied until you feel more comfortable. 

Before the session starts and during the massage, check in with your masseuse to confirm whether the amount of applied pressure is comfortable, too much or not enough. 

Commonly, deep tissue massage is used to treat areas that are injured or tight which can leave patients feeling tender for a few hours. It is recommended to drink plenty of liquids after a session and do some light stretching to ease muscles. You can find out more information on why massage causes soreness in our in depth blog. 

What Are the Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage can benefit many people for lots of different reasons, including those who suffer from certain medical conditions or chronic pain. Here are just a few of the reasons you may benefit from deep tissue massage, outweighing the amount of soreness felt:

Reduced Pain

One of the most common reasons you may require a deep tissue massage is to relieve pain. Whether chronic or from a recent injury, pain relief is a result of the muscles relaxing and tension being released during the massage. There are a few differences between sports massage and deep tissue massage, however individuals suffering from a sports injury can receive pain relief after a session. As deep tissue massage also relaxes the body and reduces stress and anxiety, this has been shown to help individuals cope with the physical and emotional aspects of pain.

Better Range of Motion

Anyone who has suffered from an injury or certain medical conditions are likely to have a reduced range of motion. Deep tissue massage can help to improve this by putting pressure on the affected area, alleviating soreness and tension. It also increases the rate of recovery, meaning you can get back to your regular activities without being limited by their injury.

Improved Mental Health

There are studies around how deep tissue massage impacts individuals’ mental health after sessions. The results of these studies suggest that the relaxing properties of deep tissue massage can lower stress and anxiety and provide a better night’s rest. This is due to the relaxed state achieved during sessions, relieving any tension from the day.

What Are the Side Effects of Deep Tissue Massage?

Alongside the many benefits, there are a few common side effects which you are likely to experience, especially after an initial deep tissue massage. These include:

Feeling Sore

Soreness is one of the most common side effects expected after a deep tissue massage. This is due to the amount of pressure being applied on potentially tender areas of the body. This should only last for around 48 hours with proper rest and consuming enough liquids after the session. With regular sessions, the amount of soreness you experience afterwards should decrease over time. 

Flu-Like Symptoms

Illness is another potential side effect of deep tissue massage that can include fatigue, headaches and nausea. The soreness felt after massages can activate the body’s immune system to try and repair itself. This can lead to the above flu-like symptoms. More information on this is available when you read our in depth blog


Deep tissue massage can deplete water from muscles, which is why individuals are often left feeling dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water before, during and after a session should help to replenish liquid. Find out more about why drinking water after a massage is so important in our recent blog. 

How Often Should You Get A Deep Tissue Massage?

There is no set time period for getting a deep tissue massage as it can vary based on individual needs. If you are new to deep tissue massage, it is recommended to have one massage per week for six weeks to allow your body to get used to the amount of pressure. After this, one massage every 2-4 weeks should allow you to feel the benefits sooner. Regular appointments are strongly recommended to fully maximise the potential positive results and minimise any negative effects such as aches and pains. More information is available in our recent blog, When Should You Get a Deep Tissue Massage?.

Final Thoughts

Although deep tissue massage can cause discomfort, especially for individuals new to deep tissue massage, it should not be outright painful. Massage therapists should ask their clients to be upfront about any pain or extreme discomfort they feel during sessions so they can adapt their technique and apply less pressure. 

If you want to level up your deep tissue massage service, we have a range of training courses available to suit your current level. These courses are developed and delivered by expert clinicians so you know that you’ll receive everything you need to effectively deliver treatment to clients. If you’re completely new to massage, take a look at our level 3 course. For those more experienced, our level 4 course may be more suitable. 

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