I have had several clients lately bring up their hesitation to try deep tissue massage for fear of experiencing pain and/or discomfort so I wanted to express my thoughts on this topic.
There seems to be a common misunderstanding that for massage to be effective it must be painful. While it can be true that a client may experience some discomfort when focusing on areas of tension, deep tissue massage does not need to be painful to be effective! Deep tissue simply means working into the depth of muscles and fascia, beneath the surface, and it can be achieved rather painlessly by easing into the tissue. A good massage therapist will listen to your body and follow your breath, allowing them to reach deeper layers as your body relaxes into the work. From a state of relaxation a therapist can actually sink deeper into the muscle without meeting resistance and the client will feel less discomfort. A therapist may also ask you to practice focusing your breath into the area of discomfort and to release any holding in those tissues.
It is important to remember that you are in charge of the session. Speak up and let your massage therapist know if the pressure is too intense and if they need to back out of the muscle a bit. The more your body is able to stay relaxed during a session, the greater the therapeutic result, so if you’re experiencing pain asking for less pressure may actually be more beneficial.
By: Ashley McDermott, LMT