The Emotional Release of Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is a type of therapeutic massage that focuses on realigning the deeper layers of muscles and connective tissues. It is especially helpful for chronic aches and pains and contracted areas such as stiff necks, sore shoulders, and tight lower backs. Beyond the physical benefits, deep tissue massage can also lead to an intense emotional release.

During a deep tissue massage, the massage therapist uses slower strokes and more direct deep pressure on areas of tension. The therapist will target knots, also called adhesions, in the fascia, muscles, and tendons. They apply pressure on these restrictive blockages in order to break them down and relieve tension. This allows increased blood flow to the affected area as well as the breakup of scar tissue. It is not uncommon for a deep tissue massage to be somewhat painful at times. However, the pain should never be excruciating and you should communicate with your therapist if you need less pressure.

Many clients report feeling emotional during or after their treatment. The experience of having pressure applied to tense, painful areas of the body can lead to the release of built-up emotions. The emotions may be related to physical pain and tension that the client has been holding in their muscles. Having those knots addressed and the subsequent release of tension can cause feelings to rise to the surface.

There are also emotional connections to touch. Having another person apply purposeful, therapeutic touch to your body in a caring manner can trigger the release of emotions. Feelings like stress, anxiety, and grief may come up as your body has the chance to fully relax and release the built-up tension that often accompanies difficult emotions. Cathartic crying is not an uncommon reaction to deep tissue massage.

The emotional release may also relate to receiving focused care from another person. We spend so much time taking care of others that having an hour that is completely devoted to caring for you and your body’s needs can feel overwhelmingly meaningful. It is an emotional experience to receive nurturing touch when you are accustomed to giving it.

It is important not to judge any emotions that may arise during a deep tissue massage. Allow yourself to experience and acknowledge any feelings or reactions that you have without shame. Communicate with your massage therapist if you need a break or anything adjusted so you remain as comfortable as possible. The emotional release that can accompany a deep tissue massage should ultimately leave you feeling lighter, freer, and more at ease. The emotions were always there to some degree. The massage simply created a safe space for your body and mind to fully process and release them.