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What is the difference between Bodywork and Deep Tissue Massage?

Last Updated: July 13, 2023

What is the difference between bodywork and deep tissue massage?

This is the most often asked question we receive from our clients, and it’s a great one!

Bodywork is better described as orthopedic or manual therapy, and deep tissue massage would be one technique used in the process. Bob Tricomi, owner of Bodywork Masters, describes it as the overall treatment of the connective tissue, otherwise known as fascia, by using manual techniques. Because aches and pains are often caused by unhealthy fascia, bodyworkers look to find the root of the tissue problem and use strategic techniques to restore health to any damaged or injured tissue. 

Deep tissue massage is the application of sustained pressure with slow and deep strokes to target the inner layers of muscle and connective tissue and is often used in a bodywork session. It is one therapeutic approach among many such as cupping, gua-sha (Graston Technique), myofascial release, and pressure point therapy, used to achieve specific results depending on the client’s needs.

The whole-body approach

Bodywork takes a unique and holistic approach to the body. To find the source of the problem, the therapist assesses the whole body, not just the concerning area. Often times, the cause of the pain or tension originates from an entirely different area. Once the source is identified, the therapist will determine what techniques will work best in restoring the fascia.

The fascial system is key in creating balance and alignment. Its role is to foster healing and provide injury protection. When the body experiences a trauma or injury, the fascia will work as a natural bandaid and will adhere itself to the damaged tissue, joint, or bone. This process provides protection and healing to the area however, adhesions can form and must be broken down and removed. The goal is to reestablish healthy blood flow and remove any scar tissue that may have occurred during the protective process. The result is less pain, improved mobility, and better balance. 

In short, deep tissue massage is a form of bodywork. The intent of bodywork is to keep the body tissue in its healthiest condition. If a client is experiencing pain from unhealthy tissue, it is addressed by using a multitude of techniques, including deep tissue massage. Along with improved performance and increased mobility and flexibility, restoration of healthy tissue can lead to the reduction or elimination of pain medication as well as provide a potential alternative to surgery (for more information about what conditions bodywork can correct, click here).

It is also important to be proactive in developing a maintenance plan to keep connective tissue strong and healthy. Do not wait until you experience pain to do something. Maintaining healthy fascia goes a long way to helping your body feel the best it possibly can.

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