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Deep Tissue Massage & Heavy Lifting

Article written by Stephanie Garibaldi for
I don’t know about you? But the last thing that I think about when I am about to receive a deep tissue massage is a BIG lifting session. (Cause that’s the only way we know how).  Let alone a lifting session that has to be performed right after my deep tissue massage, because of my piss poor planning.   I always try to clear my head of errands, bills, and what I need to get at the grocery store for dinner that night. A clear mind is always an excellent way heading into any body work session. The BIG question is this.  What exactly is a deep tissue massage? Also, why can’t I lift after I receive one? My response is: Why would you even want to?

A simple definition of a deep tissue massage is the understanding of the layers of the body.  Also the ability to work with tissue in these layers to relax, lengthen, and release holding patterns(blocking) in the most effective and energy efficient way possible.  Deep tissue massage releases tight and contracted muscles and connective tissue in several ways.  The first is mechanical; the therapist stretches tight muscles and connective tissue causing micro tears that heal quickly, making the muscles longer and more relaxed. It also resets muscle spindles, nerves that let the brain know how long or short your muscle is, and weather it is contracting or not. The nerves have to get used to the new normal state once the tightness is released.  The massage also warms tissue fluid and moves excess fluid out of the tissues, relieving pressure on nerves and making your muscles more relaxed.  In deep tissue massage there is less emphasis on pleasure as the primary goal, and more emphasis on alternating structure and muscle restrictions.  

After receiving this very beneficial treatment, You instantly have a very euphoric and trance state feeling.  The alleviation of pain is gone, bringing better posture, more flexibility, and fluid movement throughout your body. You will feel some soreness, but nothing to intense. Some clients feel very warm from their circulation flowing a lot better, throughout their body depending on how bad their injury was.  To lift after a deep tissue massage would interfere with the healing process of your muscle tissue, spindles and nervous system.  It would further stress your muscles and undo the resetting of the muscle spindles and confuse your proprioceptive system. How can you lift weights with a confused proprioceptive system??  YOU CAN’T!  You will be confused, light headed, dehydrated, and very fatigued. You put yourself in danger, and cause serious injury to yourself, and other lifters around you as well.  Your muscle tissue is very soft, spongy, elastic and way too relaxed. I find it hard to drive home after such sessions.  Let alone lift weights and pick heavy things up off the ground.    

The main reason why you would get a deep tissue massage is to break up scar tissue and lengthen your muscles. It promotes blood flow and supplies nutrients to your muscle tissue.  To lift right after your massage, you are not giving your body proper time to heal and hydrate with water; to rid all of the lactic acid and inflammation from your body. You will just build on top of what you already had prior to your session.  Keep building the scar tissue up, and you will decrease circulation and blood flow to your muscles. When you decrease your circulation, that’s when blood clots, numbness and chronic pain occurs, increasing your chance of serious injury, and or other serious conditions.

The treatment plan that I relay to my clientele is this.  Give your body time to react to the treatment, and stabilize before your next lifting session.  Wait at least 24 to 48 hrs.  After a deep tissue massage to lift.  This gives your body time to recover.  Hydrate and soak in an Epson salt bath.  This salt rids the body of lactic acid and helps rid the body of inflammation. I also put a couple of drops of lavender ALL NATURAL essential oil into my bath.  It puts the body into total relaxation, and rids the mind of worries. You can find these products at any rite aid, target, or any homeopathic store.  I am NOT saying just don’t do any kind of exercise at all.  Just stick to a flexibility and mobility protocol for 24 to 48 hrs. after your deep tissue massage.  A light jog is acceptable as well, just nothing to interrupt the healing patterns that are taking place in your body after your deep tissue massage. 

I will leave you with this.  The human body has 206 bones and 640 muscles, each one of them serving a very important purpose. We depend on every one of these during our lifting sessions. Some muscles scream at us more than others: especially when we can’t squat down on the toilet the next day after a heavy squat/dead lifting session from the day before.  Love that DOMS!  Please don’t make a poor decision and lift right after you receive your deep tissue massage. You have made all of your muscles feel so good and relaxed. Why put them in an unhealthy, unnecessary, and harmful state?  They work hard for you everyday while you lift, and help you produce your PR’s.  Give them a break and let them enjoy their recovery time. I guarantee after your deep tissue massage, and your ample recovery time. You will come back stronger, feeling lengthened, and much more flexible than you ever were before. Leaving you to smash your PR’s, and make BIG strides in your lifting career.

Deep Tissue Massage: A Visual Guide To Techniques.  Art Riggs, Certified Advanced Rolfer, C.M.T. 

The Concise Book of Muscles.  Chris Jarmey. Pertaining to body work, physical therapy, chiropractic, medicine, and any other health related field. 

Stephanie Garibaldi-Ainsworth. Holistic Health Practitioner(HHP),
Licensed Massage Therapist(LMT), Certified Crossfit Trainer Level 1, (CFT), Personal Trainer from International Sports Science Association (CPT), Owner of Therapeutic Touch Massage


15 thoughts on “Deep Tissue Massage & Heavy Lifting

  1. Hey, All!

    The content of your site may be terrific, but the low-contrast lettering on the black background makes reading very difficult! As well as making it difficult to scan for anything in particular you may be looking for on a page. Lift big, eat big, and – have mercy on those with less acute eyesight. :^)

  2. Hmm.. This brings my mind to the Rumble Roller. Has anyone used a Rumble Roller? It is amazing. I’ve been using one a few months now, with fantastic results.. I use it for pre and rehab rolling. Beats the heck out of a normal foam roller in my opinion.

    Now I’m questioning if I should use the Rumble Roller before Lifting since it acts as somewhat of a deep tissue massage (not exaclty, but sort of). I’ve been rolling for 20mins with it just before I lift to loosen up from sitting in a cubicle all day.

  3. I’ve said that before, as well. Love the articles, but the colors kill me. You guys can do something like Rogue fitness if you still wanted to keep it dark-ish. But whatever, it’s your call.

  4. The rumble roller is AMAZING to use pre and post lift. It however does not even come close to a deep tissue massage. You do not have a professional feeling your connective tissue, fascia, and scar tissue. Really identifying the origin and insertion of your muscles and finding your hot spots. Its an excellent idea to roll, don’t get me wrong. It will hold you off until you can go see your therapist again:-)

  5. I prefer not to foam roll before lifting because it makes me feel like I’m not performing optimally. I save it for after my session. What I like to do before is dynamic stretching and mobility work.

  6. Stephanie, thank you for the great article. Makes me rethink my plans for this week. Next Sunday I will be competing in my first olympic lifting competition and was thinking of getting a deep tissue massage beforehand. What are your thoughts on getting one a few days prior to a lifting meet? Say Thursday, and lifting on Sunday? Thanks

  7. Hi Michael! Im glad that you liked the article. Im just trying to spread some knowledge out there in the lifting world. WOW thats so exciting about your first OLY meet. No doubt that you will CRUSH it BIG time:-) Thursday sounds perfect for your deep tissue massage. Have them also add in some sports massage, and ROM as well. Just to get your muscles ready and warm for your upcoming comp. Please drink at least 64 ounces of water or more after. Especially since you will be competing. Have fun and KILL it!!

  8. Great article Stephanie, thanks!

  9. My massage therapist oakville pal said it’s one of the more direct massage techniques (I don’t get what that means though). Can casual bystanders also use that (I mean, i’m not that physical).

  10. How much does a dtm cost? And how much should you go? Is once a month worth it?

  11. Deep tissue massage is the best option for sportsmen. I have also tried this few weeks ago and it really did the best for me. I would suggest it the best.

  12. You have it right when you said that people need to avoid immediately going back to their physical regimen after a deep tissue massage session. People need to put some moderation when going through deep tissue massages, to avoid causing muscle damage.

  13. leduc massage

    From several days I was looking to learn more about Deep Tissue Massage & Heavy Lifting and finally come to know about this vital topics and this is really very pleasure for me. So thanks mate 🙂

  14. great article

  15. As per my experience for weight lifters deep tissue massage is must. This is the best way to rehabilitate injured body muscles and make body ready for the next weight lifting session. This massage therapy is good for both body and mind. It also reduce the body stress. One thing I recommend that we must choose the professional or well trained massage therapist like Qi Image spa otherwise their is no benefit of massage therapy.

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