Massage Aha!

Professional therapeutic massage therapy in Kansas City, MO by Aaron Harris, BCTMB

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What is a Deep Tissue Massage?


A vast majority of clients confuse “deep tissue” work with a massage using strong pressure.

A deep tissue massage involves working with muscle groups that are less superficial, or deeper in the body than those a typical Swedish massage session would manipulate.

Deep tissue sessions are generally more focused on one body part. They are slower and often require the use of a practitioner’s elbows and forearms to “melt” through the superficial tissues to reach deeper structures.

For example, the superficial tissues and muscles of the upper back, such as the trapezius and latissimus dorsi would be commonly manipulated during a swedish session.

The superficial muscles of the back.
The superficial muscles of the back including trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and the posterior heads of the deltoids.

There are several muscles that lie beneath these tissues that require time and patience to access. These tissues would include the rhomboids, longissimus thoracis, and the intercostal muscles of the rib cage.

One level cut away view of the muscles of the upper back targeted in a deep tissue massage.
One level cut away view of the muscles of the upper back including the minor and major rhomboids, and longissimus thoracis. These muscles are often targets of a deep tissue massage.

Even deeper lies splenius cervicis, splenius capitis, and multifidi. These muscles can become overworked and tired or injured due to an accident or fall.

Deepest view of the muscles of the upper back only accessible via a deep tissue massage.
Two layer cut away view of the muscles of the upper back including, splenius capitis, splenius cervicis, and multifidi. These muscles can only be adequately targeted during a deep tissue massage.

When you request an in-home Deep Tissue massage session from me, we will spend a few minutes discussing the symptoms and pain that you are experiencing so that I can focus on the muscles and tissues involved to provide relief.


A deep tissue massage requires more diligent aftercare because these muscles are very strong and manipulation can cause a brief period of increased pain and, in some cases, minor bruising.

An increase in your water intake combined with the use of an over-the-counter, non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen (Motrin) or naprosyn (Aleve) can alleviate lingering effects.

Alternating ice and heat packs as well as a topical pain-relieving cream/gel such as BioFreeze or Capzasin are helpful. CBD oils have also proven to be quite effective.

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