The Deep Tissue Massage Myth

Many people believe deep tissue massage is supposed to be painful in order to be beneficial. As the saying goes, “No Pain, No Gain”, does not always apply to massage. In fact, many people fall into a deeper state of relaxation when they receive a deep tissue massage.

So what is a deep tissue massage? Deep tissue massage involves the manipulation of the deeper layers of muscle and soft tissues of the body. It requires the massage therapist to melt into the tissue before reaching these deep layers by warming up the superficial layers of muscle that are on top. Reaching the deep layers of muscle and soft tissue may not always be accomplished in the first session. Depending on each particular situation, the session may have to be modified in order to keep the client comfortable so they do not unknowingly or unconsciously resist the work.

Our muscles have a natural reflex reaction to resist pain. When a muscle thinks it is about to be injured, this reflex is triggered. When too much pressure is applied, for example, during a massage, the muscle or group of muscles will naturally resist the force by tightening even further. This is the opposite effect of what massage is all about. Effective massage relaxes and releases areas of tension.

Most people will naturally try to avoid painful situations. For instance, not many people look forward to going to the dentist since many people associate pain with the dentist. Receiving a massage should not be one of those instances. Everyone has a different level of comfort and tolerance for pain. Each person can perceive pain on a different level depending on their pain tolerance. When the deep tissue Athens is experiencing pain, the body reacts through tension. During a deep tissue massage, discomfort is normal and will be felt especially if there are inconsistencies within the tissues. Discomfort is described as a “good hurt”, the kind that hurts and feels good at the same time in a strange kind of way. On the other hand, pain can be described as uncomfortable and not well tolerated by the body.

There are many techniques or modalities that can fall under the category of deep tissue work. Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) and Myofascial Release are just two that can be described as advanced deep tissue techniques. NMT focuses on creating a balance between the central nervous system (comprised of the brain, spine, and nerves) and the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and joints of the body through specific methods. Myofascial Release works on stretching and lengthening the connective tissue coverings called fascia that surround every part of our internal structure including our bones, muscles, and organs. Tight fascia can cause pain and restrict joint mobility.

There are times when deep pressure is necessary and can be painful, and that is in the case of scar tissue. Scar tissue or adhesions, as they are sometimes called, are thick areas of bound up connective tissue that is created during the healing process from an injury or some form of surgery. Scar tissue work requires deep pressure in order to break up the dense nature of this tissue. However, massage therapists should work within the clients comfort level and pain tolerance at all times. If a person cannot handle a high amount of pressure, it may take several more treatments to achieve the same results as someone with a higher threshold for pain. Results will occur, only at a slower rate.