Deep Tissue Massage: Relaxation or Torture?

As part of my physical therapy I had a deep tissue massage before one of my recent sessions. My muscles had been so tight and flared up that my physical therapist wasn’t able to get to the joint to work on it,  so the massage was supposed to help loosen things up and relax the muscles.

I’ve never had a deep tissue massage before, so I had no idea what I was in for. When I think massage, I think relaxing and something that makes you feel good. If this is your thought too and someone suggests you get a deep tissue massage, then I suggest you run away fast! If we just sent massage therapists to interrogations we could learn any secrets out there. It was one of the more painful experiences I’ve had, and I’ve run 9 marathons! I had to constantly force myself to remember to breathe.

In all seriousness though, despite the initial pain, I saw immediate gains in my session that day. I even went back for more before one of my sessions the following week. Combined with the daily foam rolling and icing, the area around my hip flexors, quads and IT band is starting to feel human again and a bit less like steel! You can actually feel some of the tissues in there and I’m much better at relaxing my muscles rather than tightening them up and muscle guarding to protect from the pain when my physical therapist works on my legs. It’s great to notice some progress and feel like I’m closer to getting back out on the road again.

I’m told that eventually as the injury goes away, deep tissue massages will get less painful and can be a helpful tool when training for and running marathon distances. Based on the results I’ve had so far, I believe it!

Have you ever had a deep tissue massage? What did you think? I’d love to hear from runners that incorporate them into their training and recovery plans.