The Massage Therapy Career Focus Workbook

Touch Depth — Concept:

The Touch Depth principle addresses an issue which is often only spoken about in hushed voices: some therapists just prefer to work at a specific body depth. The reason they whisper is because the prevailing attitude is: you do massage, you have to work at all depths. That's just hooey.

Depth of touch can range from barely touching a client's skin, to where you physically reach and manipulate the deepest layers of muscles, soft tissues, and organs. Some massage styles or techniques require working at all levels—others, just at one. But if you have a preference (and most therapists do), why not make the choice now? Better to do what you love than what you hate.

Now, the names of these touch depth choices just begged to be in Latin; however, in keeping with our mandate to help you communicate with the public, we made the difficult management decision and gave them decidedly unsophisticated sounding names. They are: Shallow, Medium and Deep. Impressive, huh?

Touch Depth — Options:

OPTION 1) Shallow:

The shallow touch depth affects the epidermal and dermal layers and can range, as mentioned above, from barely touching the skin, to gentle stroking and stimulatory techniques.

Although therapists who focus on shallow touch may only be in contact with the most superficial body layers, shallow touch can produce beneficial results in deeper body layers and positively affect overall wellness.

OPTION 2) Medium:

The medium touch depth effects those mesoderm-derived structures beneath the dermal layer. These include groups of muscles, connective tissues, nerve fibres, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and organs.

Medium touch depth requires stretching, static and dynamic compression, and the application of friction techniques to the above mentioned structures.

OPTION 3) Deep:

Deep touch techniques directly and thoroughly affect the innermost layers of muscle fibers, connective tissue, nerve fibres and the endoderm-derived layers of blood vessels, lymphatic vessels and organs.

Epidermis: Literally: upon, upper, or outer skin. The outermost layer of the integumentary system. Commonly referred to as the skin.

Dermis: The layer below the epidermis invested with numerous blood vessels, nerves and glands.

Mesoderm: Literally: middle skin. It is the embryonic layer which produces all the skeletal muscle, cartilage, bone, blood and lymphatic vessels, dermis and the exterior layer of many internal organs.

Endoderm: Literally: inner skin. It is the embryonic layer that produces the internal coverings of many internal organs.