No gain with pain
Updated: Jun 15, 2018
There is a myth in massage that there is no gain without pain and the truth is, there is no gain with pain and this especially applies to Deep Tissue Massage.
Some people have had a very hard Deep Tissue massage in the past and have thought that this is it, this is what is needed but is it really? As a massage therapist I feel it is important to educate my clients on why pain is not the way to go and why.
At times I will have a client who will ask me to press harder, to apply more pressure when in fact I can't. It is not because I am not strong, but when you are pressing muscle and skin against bone, there is no where else to go. No matter how much harder your push, you cannot move the bone and you don't want to. And as the therapist, I do not want to cause my client to bruise as bruising is not a good sign.
If you come out after a massage treatment with bruises, your therapist has done something wrong and it should be questioned. Personally, I would never go back.
A trained and qualified therapist will know where the bones are and which muscles lie where and what they do. They will know which ones are superficial muscles and which ones are on a deeper level. With this knowledge, they will be able to feel how much pressure to apply and to communicate this with their client to ensure that the pressure is okay for them. We all have a different level of sensitivity so there is no one rule that applies to everyone.
As your therapist warms up your superficial muscles, with relaxing strokes, your body will start to relax and feel safe, with your muscles feeling supple and relaxed, the therapist will be able to access the deeper layers of muscles. This is what Deep Tissue massage is all about. The therapist will be able to apply trigger points and work on the deeper tissue layers but it does not mean that they have to go harder, use their elbows and hurt you.
The thing is, as soon as a client experiences any pain, the body's natural reflex is to harden against it and to toughen up. If the client does this, in its own natural ways of self protection, the therapist is unable to access those deeper layers of tissue without force.
By the therapist going harder and "getting in there", they are really forcing their way rather than working together with the clients body. Some people like the fight, and experience short term relief from the fact that it hurt so much that now it feels better because the pain has stopped but this is not a long term solution to muscle tension. The best results are found when the body feels safe, and the muscles let go and the therapist is able to work with them and gently but firmly support the muscles to let go of any tension or knots that may be there. This is where you experience longer term relief from your massage.
Deep Tissue can be a great way to support your body but just remember, there is no gain with pain