How do you know if Deep Tissue Massage is right for you?
Deep Tissue Massage. You may be reading this thinking,” there’s a problem with Deep Tissue Massage?” Well, In my humble opinion, there’s more than one. When I hear people say they like Deep Tissue Massage, my first thought is: Are you sure? OK, I know I may be ruffling a few feathers with this one but hear me out. This post is not really for the people who genuinely enjoy Deep Tissue Massage and benefit from it. This post is intended to educate the peeps who think that Deep Tissue Massage is the only way to get benefits from massage. For the people who think “No pain, no gain” applies in the treatment room, too. This post is for people who think its a necessary evil and that biting the bullet is the way to go. No. No, no, no, no, no!
OK, let’s start with the basics. What is Deep Tissue Massage exactly? Well, it depends on who you ask, actually. Generally speaking it describes massage that addresses the deeper tissues underneath the superficial layers. For some people Deep Tissue refers to massage that consists of very deep pressure to get to the deeper muscles. Sometimes this incorporates longer and slower massage strokes. Sometimes, some people think it means beating the muscles into submission. And for Therapists like me, it simply means working on the deeper tissues regardless of pressure. I’ll talk about that more shortly.
Here’s the dealio, if you really enjoy deep pressure and you find it very pleasurable and relaxing-GREAT! If not, read on. Part of the problem is the people who swear by Deep Tissue Massage and recommend it to everyone they meet. Here’s why: Everyone is built differently. No one needs the exact same massage. While Deep Pressure may work perfectly for one person, it doesn’t mean it’s right for you. There are sooooo many modalities and techniques that there are lots of ways to release tension without making you feel like you need a leather strap to bite down on. Now another point I want to make is that sometimes people ask for Deep Tissue meaning Deep Pressure and they really can only tolerate a medium pressure! I can’t tell you how many times I have had to explain to a client on the table that the pressure they like is medium or firm. They had never been told otherwise, so they keep going around asking for Deep Pressure and their Massage Therapist never tells them otherwise. They just keep letting them think that they like Deep Tissue, either to charge more (I’ve seen it happen) or just to please their client. That is a complete disservice to the client! And then those uneducated clients keep misinforming their friends and family, continuing the cycle.
Another problem is the unlicensed “Massage” places that are dishing out one-size-fits-all massages, digging in their elbows, climbing on people, and causing more harm than any good they’re doing. You can read more about these places here. Its absolutely infuriating to me when I get a client that needs me to fix what they have done!
So, here’s my approach. In my opinion, you should actually enjoy your massage. Yes, there may be some tenderness or discomfort depending on the severity of the issues or conditions. But for the most part, you should be in a relaxed state. If I get your muscles to relax, I can get to the deeper tissues more effectively and in a non-invasive manner. Using techniques like finding the cause of the problem not just working on the site of pain. Using positioning as leverage, using detail work not brute force. I listen to your muscles. When too much pressure is applied, they resist. Their job is to protect you so if they are in pain, they will engage and tense up. That’s counterproductive. Of course, if it turns out you actually like Deep Pressure, I got your back. My goal is to leave you feeling renewed, more flexible, and increase your range of motion. I can do all this without leaving you feeling like you just lost a UFC fight to Rhonda Rousey.
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