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!

back muscles

One of the questions clients ask most is “Where do knots come from anyway?” Most people have experienced feeling tight or all “knotted up” in their neck and shoulders. And this feeling brings many who am seeking relief to my table. But what are knots and why do we get them?

A muscle contains thousands of muscle fibers, which are elastic in nature. Or they should be. When muscles get injured, over-worked or dehydrated they lose their elasticity. And when muscle fibers get “sticky”, they start to adhere together and form adhesions, the fancy word for “knots.”

Our muscles can get over-worked in many ways… by working out, particularly when using weights or when doing something repetitive like painting or pulling weeds. But our muscles also get over-worked when we sit at a computer day after day. Our muscles are designed to move, so when we sit in the same position all day long its really not surprising that our muscles get tight.

What can you do about knots?

Well, you can come see me! Massage is great for breaking up adhesions, bringing blood flow to the muscles to promote healing and really just a good reminder for muscles what their relaxed state is.

If you can’t get in fora massage or just need immediate relief from a particularly pesky knot, use a tennis ball and put it between you and the wall… roll around and squish that knot!
Drink more water! Hydration is really important and chances are you should be drinking more water. I find that I drink more water when my water bottle has a lid with a straw. Keep it nearby and sip it throughout the day.

Move! Its important to move those muscles. Take a break every so often from that computer screen and walk around. Roll your shoulders. Move your neck from side to side. Regular exercise is important too. But you know that!