Difference Between Deep Tissue Massage and Myofascial Release

Deep tissue massage and myofascial release are two different therapeutic techniques that focus on relieving muscle tension and promoting overall well-being.

Deep tissue massage involves applying firm pressure and slow strokes to target the deep layers of muscles and connective tissues. It aims to alleviate chronic muscle pain, improve mobility, and address specific muscular issues.

Myofascial release, on the other hand, is a technique that focuses on releasing tension and restrictions in the fascia, a thin layer of connective tissue that surrounds and supports muscles. It involves sustained pressure and gentle stretching to release adhesions and restore mobility and flexibility.

In this article, I will explain you the differences between Deep Tissue and Myofascial Release in detail considering the technique, purpose, cost, convenience, and application.

Difference Between Deep Tissue and Myofascial Release

1. Technique Used in Deep Tissue Massage and Myofascial Release

1. Technique Used in Deep Tissue Massage and Myofascial Release

DTM is a form of massage that targets the deeper muscles. It includes a variety of techniques like long and deep kneading strokes and has a generalized relaxation effect.

MFR on the other end targets a specific point in a muscle that is causing the symptom of pain and movement problems.

Process of Deep Tissue Vs Myofascial Release

Deep Tissue MassageMyofascial Release
The therapist starts with a superficial massage technique, say effleurage.

As the superficial muscles are relaxed after effleurage, the therapist begins massaging the deeper layer of muscles.

The therapist places the palmar side of his/her hands firmly on your skin and lifts the skin slightly then performs a kneading movement.

Moving hands forward in the direction of the heart, squeezing and pressing the muscles underneath.

The therapist applied many deep strokes with the proceeding stroke applied slightly away from the heart.
The therapist or chiropractor begins MFR with palpation of the skin, superficial muscles, and deep structure in the area of pain.

The therapist palpates the pinpoint location and the surrounding tissues to find the precise problem area where a knot or multiple knots are present.

After locating the knots, the therapist uses his/her thumb, or knuckles to apply point pressure directly over the knot.

Keeping the pressure on for 20 to 30 seconds, then relaxing for 5 to 10 seconds, and then reapplying the pressure, the therapist repeats the process several times.

Simultaneously, the therapist also stretches the muscle being treated to improve a pain-free range of motion. One area is treated at a time, or say one knot at a time.

2. Outcome of Myofascial Release Vs Deep Tissue Massage

Getting a deep tissue massage is comfortable. You do not feel pain, or tenderness in the area after the massage instead, you feel relaxed, and your body can move easily afterward.

Getting a myofascial release session is always painful. The knots that are already causing discomfort become more sensitive when pressure is applied. The technique can leave your muscle sore for a day, but that resolves soon and you get long-term relief from your symptoms.

3. Purpose of Deep Tissue and Myofascial Release

Purpose of Deep TissuePurpose of Myofascial Release
Deep tissue massage is good for generalized muscle relaxation. If you want to re-energize your body after a long hectic day, then DTM is the best option.

It mainly targets the deeper muscles but also induces relaxation in the superficial structures.

The squeezing and kneading movement increases the blood flow in that area.

It also stimulates lymphatic drainage because of the swapping effect.

Reduces chronic pain symptoms.
Myofascial release is intended to relax the muscle fascia.

It dissolves the tender points in your muscles. It gives long-term pain relief.

It also improves fresh blood flow to the trigger points due to the pressing and releasing technique.

It helps to lengthen the muscles that become short over time due to poor posture. It improves the range of motion.

4. Cost of Deep Tissue Massage Vs Myofascial Release

A session of deep tissue massage costs about $80 to $120 depending on the area and time.

Myofascial release is a bit more expensive than deep tissue massage, as it’s one session costs between $150 and $180.

5. Convenience – Can You Get Myofascial Release and Deep Tissue Massage at Home?

Can You Get Deep Tissue and Myofascial Release at Home

It is best to go to a massage clinic or spa to get deep tissue massage from a professional massage therapist. However, you can also book an appointment at your home and hire a therapist for a home visit.

Myofascial release requires expert skills. It is best to visit a chiropractic, rehab, or massage clinic for a consultation first.

To get a myofascial release, you need to be assessed by an advanced-level professional for finding the knots, and then release the pinpoint location of fascia.

It requires more skill and patience, and there is also a chance of muscle injury, that’s why I don’t recommend a home setting for this technique.

Myofascial Release Or Deep Tissue – My Recommendation

I recommend you go for a deep tissue massage if your muscles are tired. General fatigue, body aches, soreness, and mood problems are best resolved with deep tissue massage.

You can get relief from chronic low back pain and inflammatory conditions. If you want to improve your flexibility, deep tissue massage is the best option as it relaxes sore muscles.

People in their recovery phase from injuries like whiplash, sports injuries, or carpal tunnel syndrome can also benefit from deep tissue massage due to its property of increasing blood flow to the target tissue.

If you have a specific musculoskeletal problem, or a diagnosis of muscle disorder including trigger points, muscle shortening, or fasciitis, then I recommend you go for a myofascial release technique rather than deep tissue massage.

With most of the conditions involving your muscles and bones, you would experience a limited range of motion. Myofascial release therapy increases the extensibility of the muscle fascia and improves the range of motion.

If you feel tight bands in your legs, neck, shoulder, or back, it is your sign to go for myofascial release

My Final Thoughts:

Both deep tissue massage and myofascial release techniques target deep muscles, but the aim and method of application for both are different.

Deep tissue massage imparts a more generalized effect, whereas myofascial release works on a specific tissue or muscle point identified as knot or problematic.

In terms of application, myofascial release requires more skills and practice than a simple deep-tissue massage.

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