Absolutely not! Massage can definitely be effective without being painful. I’ve heard many stories from clients about getting massages they described as torture sessions. While some clients prefer a deep massage to work-out especially tense muscles, a deep tissue massage is not for everyone. There are plenty of benefits to receiving a relaxing Swedish-style massage.
Swedish massage uses long flowing strokes that improves circulation, relaxes muscles and decreases pain. Increased circulation brings nutrients and oxygen to the cells which helps heal muscle tissue. Increased blood flow also warms the muscles and allows for the release of tension. Plus it just feels good! After a massage, clients regularly report feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
So why get deep tissue massage? Deep tissue massage is used to address chronic pain or particularly tight and bound-up muscles. Slow, deliberate strokes are used to get to the deeper layers of muscles. But it’s critical that the deeper pressure is delivered within each client’s comfort zone.
Without a doubt, the “right” kind of pressure to use with a client is tricky for a therapist. I have worked on clients that requested “deep tissue”, only to notice them tense-up when the work started to get deep. The fact is that everyone’s idea of “deep” is different. And this is why communication is so important. I tell my clients that we want to keep massage pressure in the “good kind of hurt” range. If the work is too deep, then the muscles respond by tensing in order to protect themselves. The goal is to get the muscles to relax. If the muscles are just tensing-up against pressure that is too deep, then the massage is counter-productive. So it’s important to let your therapist know if pressure becomes uncomfortable. And hopefully they are checking in with you too!