Is neuromuscular massage and deep tissue massage the same thing?

deep tissue massage

If your chiropractor or physical therapist has brought up the topic of neuromuscular massages, you may be wondering if there’s really any difference between the specialist type of massage and a standard deep tissue massage. The answer is a resounding yes.

Sports massages, Swedish massages, Chiropractic massages…there are so many different types of massage out there that it can be difficult to tell them apart. While many massages may look similar from an outside point of view, they’re all very different and come with a variety of diverse benefits. 

The similarities

Neuromuscular massages and deep tissue massages both work to alleviate chronic pain. They’re much more intense than other types of massage therapy, such as lymphatic drainage massage, and can feel very similar to the person receiving them. However, this is where the similarities end. 

Neuromuscular vs. Deep Tissue Massage


One of the biggest differences between these types of massage is the person giving them. Deep tissue massages can be given by any qualified therapist, while only someone with the correct qualification can give neuromuscular massages. This qualification takes several extra years of education to obtain and is not something all therapists do.

A qualified neuromuscular massage therapist has a thorough understanding of how the muscles in the body work individually and together. They have an in-depth knowledge of each muscle’s trigger points and the parts of the body that affect them.

Several of our Veeva chiropractic clinics proudly boast chiropractors who have gone the extra mile to achieve the degree necessary to offer neuromuscular massages. 

Neuromuscular and Deep Tissue Massage Techniques

While both neuromuscular and deep tissue massages aim to reduce pain, they do it in very different ways. Deep tissue massages treat musculoskeletal issues by using slow, deep movements and sustained pressure to alleviate muscle aches and pains. Each session typically begins with a light Swedish massage to prepare the muscles before gradually increasing intensity.

Most people enjoy deep tissue massages on an as-needed basis and a single session is often enough to treat a number of problems that can affect the whole body.

Neuromuscular massages can be considered a type of medical massage therapy. This form of focused and specialized treatment focuses on areas of muscle spasm to help reduce chronic pain and stiffness. While deep tissue massage is generally carried out exclusively with the therapist’s hands, neuromuscular massages often incorporate the use of a T-bar.

This sophisticated piece of equipment works by isolating trigger points and provides your chiropractor with the leverage they need to treat your body’s tightest and most painful areas. Neuromuscular massage therapy is often used to treat just one part of the body and is most helpful at treating specific conditions which require immediate professional help. Several sessions are required to properly improve the condition and get the best results.

Neuromuscular massage or deep tissue massage?

The easiest way to decide the best type of massage therapy for you is to consider the condition you want to treat. Neuromuscular massage therapy is most effective at treating chronic pain caused by serious dysfunctions, specific trauma, and repetitive movements. It can help improve:

Neuromuscular massage therapy works by releasing tight muscles and concentrating on trigger points. It focuses on a single part of your body that is causing you pain or a limited range of motion.

Deep tissue massage is best for treating discomfort caused by your connective tissues. This type of massage therapy can be used for:

  • Chronic pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sciatica
  • Tense muscles
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Limited mobility issues
  • Recovering from injuries

The controlled, deliberate strokes used in deep tissue massages work by breaking up scar tissue that often appears after an injury. It also works by reducing muscle tension and can speed up recovery time by increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation. 


Neuromuscular massage therapy is used to treat specific complex problems, while deep tissue massage therapy can help with general aches and pains or simply be a way of recovering after a particularly stressful week. Neuromuscular massages can relieve intense pain caused by specific trigger points in your muscles being activated, but deep tissue massages are the best choice for improving chronic pain and enhancing recovery following sports-related injuries.

Get in touch

If you’ve been suffering from severe discomfort and haven’t found a solution to your problems, neuromuscular massage therapy could be the way forward. Get in touch with your nearest Veeva chiropractic clinic today and discuss your options with an experienced medical professional.

They’ll be able to let you know if you could benefit from this type of specialist massage therapy or if there’s another form of treatment that could give you better results.

About the author

Matt has been helping providers within the healthcare setting for over a decade. He realizes how best to solve a patient’s problem by understanding the individualism of each patient. Therefore knowing what their true needs are.  To focus on the patient and the “Why” they need their particular service that goes beyond the initial reason for them to seek treatment.

Matt has been with Veeva since 2018. He also has access to over 75 years of combined real-life hands-on experiences from the many doctors within the Veeva Chiropractic landscape.

Read more about Matt here >>