Deep Tissue Massage: Should they be painful?
A question I get all the time being a massage therapist is: "Should my massage be painful?"
You hear it all the time, "No pain, no gain!", but is that really the case? Let's talk about it!
Whenever you do any kind of exercise, you are contracting and relaxing your muscles in order to move. In this process, when you add any resistance (which can be literally anything from walking to weight lifting to swimming), you are creating tiny, tiny tears in the muscle fibres. This is what makes us so sore! Don't worry, though, these tiny tears repair in no time and only make our muscles stronger.
So when we go for that post-exercise treatment, or even our regular maintenance treatment while we are feeling sore or have been exercising, pressing and stretching these muscles can cause a bit of pain. Good pain, that is!
The pain that you feel while receiving a deep tissue massage is the practitioner getting into those deeper layers of the muscle tissue. To get to those deeper layers, the practitioner needs to go all the way down through the skin layers, fat layers, fascia and connective tissue layers, and THEN down into the many layers of the muscle itself. No wonder it can be painful!
The only thing is, if the massage is *so* painful that you are squirming, holding your breath, or not enjoying it AT all, I would ask the practitioner to back off a bit. A massage should be an enjoyable experience, and although painful, you should be feeling the many benefits and relief while on the table.
So the next time you're feeling like a deep tissue massage, but aren't sure how to answer the question "How much pressure would you like?", just ask the practitioner to start at a medium-firm pressure before building up to whatever level of pressure they are comfortable performing.
Remember: your practitioner should be checking in AT LEAST once per treatment to ask how the pressure is. And as the client, you always have the right to ask for more, or less during treatment.