Once, I had a client come to me with severe neck pain. The spa I worked at offered Deep Tissue - which we described as more of a clinical and usually offered it to clients looking to target tough spots. Or Swedish - long, flowing strokes to encourage relaxation. This client had signed up for Deep Tissue.
"Have you had deep tissue work before?" I asked her as we did the intake.
"Yes! You can feel free to beat me up." she said, smiling.
"Oh, no!" I said, "Massage shouldn't hurt."
"Well, then, how will I know it's working?" she asked.
In a society where "No pain, no gain!" is a well known mantra, she had a legitimate question. There are some practitioners who will tell you that massage can (and should!) be downright painful. There are definitely techniques - myofascial release for example - that can be more intense than others. But I've found that both personally and professionally; pain doesn't have a place in my practice.
I work deeply, but gently. Listening to you and your body, and meeting you where you're at. Jamming my elbow into the first knot I find and leaning my body weight into you while you struggle to breathe is not something that you'll experience on my table.
You will experience relief though, and the tension your muscles are experiencing will release. It may take a few sessions to get to a complete state of equilibrium, but the work we do together will lead to results - both immediate and long-term.
My training provided me a strong foundation in physiology and anatomy. That allows me to follow the knots, so to speak, and begin to release the stuck muscle fibers that are disrupting your well-being. Can the work sometimes feel uncomfortable? Yes, but it should never feel painful. I liken it to a deep stretch that's just on the edge of your comfort zone. A little uncomfortable, maybe, but with a few rounds of deep breath, you can ease into it, and move more deeply into the posture.
If you ever feel yourself clenching against the work a massage therapist is doing, that's your body's way of saying, "Uncle!" This resistance can take several forms. But the most predominant one is tensing your muscles in reaction to the treatment. For example, you may find yourself clenching your jaw as a therapist works on a knot in your low back. Or you may be tightening the muscles that are being worked on, almost as if your body is trying to push the therapists hands off of you. You might find yourself taking - or wanting to take - a sharp, sudden intake of breath. These are all cues to you and your therapist that the treatment should be dialed down a notch.
I've found that forcing my way into muscles, and trying to make the fibers move in a way they don't want to, doesn't serve anyone. I waste energy trying to do something your body doesn't want, and you don't get the desired results. (And wake up bruised the next day.)
My technique allows me to work deeply AND gently. Shifts certainly happen. I know, because my clients tell me.
A few weeks after our first session, the client who expected me to beat her up with the Deep Tissue massage she'd signed on for, came back to see me.
"You know," she said, as we headed into the massage, "I didn't believe you when you said that you didn't have to hurt me in order to make things happen. But I felt so much better after the massage - and things continued to shift in the days afterwards!" she said.
I let her know that I was glad that she was able to see such immediate results, and that, hopefully this session would prove much of the same.
"AND," she continued, "I've been telling everyone I know: Massage shouldn't hurt!"
If you're ready to see how your body responds to a massage that addresses your concerns WITHOUT pain, please contact me to set up a session.
Touchstone Healing Arts School of Massage, Burlington, VT June 2012
- 690 hour training program
- Focus in Swedish and Clinical massage techniques
-Extensive course work in Anatomy and Physiology, Pathology, Business and Ethics and Holistic Psychology
-Strong understanding of the body's energetic systems (Chakras, Polarity, Meridians.)
- LMT (Licensed by the State of Maine)
-CPR/First AID certified