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Deep Tissue

Although the lines on history can be blurred on this particular modality, which also shows evidence in ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations, one thing is for certain and that’s the contribution that James Cyriax brought to deep tissue massage. Using a combination of pressure, elbows and friction, deep tissue aims to move tissues beneath the skin specifically to disrupt and break down adhesions, tension in muscles and tendons, scarring, and to promote healthy joint movement. A defining characteristic of deep tissue massage is deep transverse friction or Cyriax friction. Sometimes labeled “The Father of Orthopedic Medicine” Cyriax took on an overwhelming interest in musculoskeletal disorders including the well-known scoliosis and other vertebral disorders. Friction is a specific type of technique using pressure applied directly to lesion site. This movement causes broadening and separation of muscle fibers that can often adhere to each other especially after injury, surgery, and inflammation. It can be applied circular, along, or against muscle fibers for stubborn areas; the effect of friction and not the pressure is what makes this movement so important and popular within this modality. Cyriax also noted that prior to deep work, tissue should be “warmed up” 10-20 prior with light Swedish strokes or light pressure to comfortably prepare muscles for deeper work. It’s said that he may have been socially awkward due to his full time dedication to his work.


French; massage: meaning "friction of kneading".

Arabic; massa: meaning "to touch, feel" or from.

Latin; massa meaning "mass, dough".

Greek; (massō) meaning "to handle, touch, to work with the hands, to knead dough".

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