Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles. It is used for chronic aches and pain and contracted areas such as a stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders. Some of the strokes are the same as those used in classic massage therapy, but the movement is slower and the pressure is deeper and concentrated on areas of tension and pain in order to reach the sub-layer of muscles and the fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles). With chronic muscle tension or injury, there may be adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) in muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Adhesions can disrupt circulation and cause pain, limited movement, and inflammation. Deep tissue massage works by physically breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain and restore normal movement. To do this, the massage therapist uses massage oil and often uses direct deep pressure. Muscles must be relaxed in order for the therapist to reach the deeper musculature.
Supporters of cupping therapy believe the suction of the cups mobilizes blood flow to promote the healing of a broad range of medical ailments.