There is a difference between good pain and bad pain.
During my carrier as a massage therapist I meet all kind of clients with different pain barrier and different expectations regarding strength of the massage.
Those who know my massage, know that I am like to work on the muscles (but could be gentle too). Those who massaged me knows, I have extreme pain threshold when receiving massage. If the massage therapist ask me when I get on the table, how strong the massage should be, I say “try to hurt me, if you can” or something like “fillet me, mince me and when you finished fill it all back to my skin”.
Well until now, I would say that I could count on one hand the number of massages I said, no more, that's enough.
On another hand, when I giving massage I always emphasize to my clients that on the table to let me know if the pressure causing “uncomfortable “-level of pain. Quite a few people say “oh don’t you worry the more the massage hurt the more successful".
Now, for those people I explain why this belief is wrong and could lead to bigger problems or increase the pain further.
You go for a massage because you want to relax, wind down after the gym or a long day, get rid of the stress sitting on your shoulders all day. The point is you want to relax your muscles and you are at the right place. On a massage table. Everything set: ambient music and light, ideal room temperature. You are ready receive what you need, a good massage.
Hopefully your therapist will ask you to tell them when the pressure causing discomfort and will adjust the pressure throughout the session. An experienced therapist shouldn’t even have to ask, she/he should be able to recognize the signs that you are in pain. Believe or not we can read your body, that is our “magic”. And hold back the horses if needed.
Even if you ask for strong or deep tissue massage, there is a point when it should go no further. I know you want to get the full value of your massage, but overdoing it with pressure might be counterproductive. A certain pressure will relax your muscles, increase the blood and lymphatic flow giving more oxygen and nutarians to your tissues and removing toxins and byproducts of the metabolism. When the pressure passes over your pain threshold your body reacts. Not only you feel pain and cannot relax but will trigger a self-protecting mechanism in your muscles. They contract, harden and get stiffer to withstand the pressure and prevent damage.
When a client of mine tells me the more hurt is the better, I tell them you come here to get your muscles relax. If I do what you want and cause you pain, then you will get the opposite what you came for and will leave my treatment room stiffer than you came in. Is that what you want? Normally the answer, no.
Trust me, a massage therapist who know the body could cause pain, but we shouldn’t.
Get the balance of the pressure and the expectations right and the outcome will be better.
Sometimes even gentle massage could hurt because of underlying conditions or lower pain threshold. If there is a suspected condition which could be serious, your therapist will direct you for your GP for investigate the problem. If your pain barrier is low, well then, the therapist should be able to use the right method to met your expectations.
How do you like your massage strong or soft?
Let me know.