Articles, Client Education Series

deep tissue massage

Client Education Series 5: Sore Muscles and Deep Tissue Massage

April Heath


When it comes to addressing muscle soreness and tension, people might be tempted to get a deep tissue massage, but is it a good idea?

The promise of alleviating deep-seated knots and tightness is enticing. However, there’s a crucial consideration to keep in mind: timing and moderation are key to reaping the full benefits of any massage.

Listen to Your Body

First and foremost, it’s essential to listen to your body. Muscle soreness is often a sign that your body needs rest and gentle care rather than intense pressure. While deep tissue massage can be incredibly effective for addressing chronic tension and tightness, applying it to sore muscles can potentially make discomfort worse and even cause injury.

Understanding Muscle Response

When muscles are sore, they are already sensitive. Deep tissue massage involves applying firm pressure to reach deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. However, when muscles are already inflamed, sensitive or tender, subjecting them to intense pressure can lead to prolonged soreness and potential tissue damage.

Opting for Moderate Pressure

Instead of diving straight into deep tissue work when muscles are sore, opting for moderate pressure can be more beneficial. It’s perfectly normal to be sore for a day or two after a deep tissue, so receiving deep while you’re already sore is not a great idea.

Moderate pressure allows for effective manipulation of soft tissue without overwhelming the body’s natural healing process. It can help improve circulation, reduce muscle tension, and promote relaxation without causing additional discomfort.

The Role of Communication

Communication with your massage therapist is paramount. Be sure to communicate openly about any areas of soreness or discomfort you’re experiencing. A skilled therapist will adjust their techniques accordingly, ensuring that your massage experience is both effective and comfortable.

The Healing Process

It’s important to recognize that the healing process takes time. While deep tissue massage can be incredibly beneficial for addressing chronic tension and tightness, it’s essential to allow your body adequate time to recover from acute soreness before diving into deeper work.

Incorporating Self-Care

In addition to massage therapy, incorporating self-care practices can further support muscle recovery and overall well-being. This may include gentle stretching, applying heat or cold therapy, staying hydrated, a soak in Epsom salts, and getting plenty of rest.


While deep tissue massage has its place in addressing chronic muscle tension and tightness, it’s essential to approach it with caution, especially when muscles are sore. Opting for moderate pressure and listening to your body’s cues can help ensure a safe and effective massage experience. Remember, the goal is not just immediate relief but also long-term muscle health and well-being.

What’s your experience of giving or receiving deep tissue?

Leave a comment below. All comments are welcome and responded to.

New to my Client Education Series? Click here to read #4 Diabetic Neuropathy and Massage

Want to keep learning? Click here to read Medications and Massage, including everyone’s favorite drug – alcohol.

Be well,


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  1. Another wonderful (and educational) post, April! Nice work!

    • April Heath says:

      Thank you Danielle! I’ve gotten oodles of offline feedback about this post from massage therapists as well as everyday folks. I had a feeling it would resonate, and I’m so glad it did. Thanks again and talk soon.
      Be well,

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