Should deep tissue massage hurt?

Have you been wondering if a massage has to hurt to be effective?  If so, you are not alone. Many people believe that a massage has to hurt in order to be effective. Well it doesn’t! You’ll be happy to hear that the saying, “No pain, no gain” doesn’t apply to massage therapy. More often, the most effective forms of bodywork are the ones that don’t cause any pain but soothes the nervous system. Something that feels marvelous, and it’s good for you too? It doesn’t get much better than that!

 Deep tissue massage has a bad reputation for being painful but if done skillfully and with an attentive therapist that is not the case. There should be minimal discomfort as your therapist manipulates the deeper layers of your soft tissue. Soft tissue includes your muscles, ligaments, fascia (it’s pretty much everything that isn’t bones or organs). Usually the work will be lighter at first, this is important, it helps relax and soften the top layer of tissue and muscle, then slowly the deeper layers of muscle can be accessed.  This will feel much better and you will get better results!

   Pain and discomfort are two different things. Muscles naturally react to any sort of pain. When your muscles feel that your body is about to be injured the reflex is to deflect the pain,  your nervous system kicks in and muscles tighten, and that is not a great way to relax. It’s hard (nearly impossible) to relax if you are in pain, and muscle tension will only release in a state of relaxation.  Discomfort is described as “the good pain” it feels intense, but you are accepting it not deflecting. No holding your breath or clenching teeth here.

Deep tissue massage is not for everyone! You are not a wimp if you don’t like it. It is one of the more involved and intense massage techniques. Some people simply like the feeling of more pressure, and a firm massage isn’t always deep tissue. Just be sure to communicate with your therapist about what you prefer and need.

If you are booking your first massage, you probably don’t want to start out with a deep tissue session. Ease your way into massage therapy and start with something less specific, like therapeutic or integrative massage. Nateley is our deep tissue specialist at Windgate Healing Arts, and can help you determine if deep tissue therapy is a good fit for your needs

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