My massage wasn’t painful, does that mean it doesn’t work? Does massage have to hurt to be effective?
- Wednesday, 04 May 2022
The simple answer is no – massage doesn’t need to hurt to do good. There is a common false truth about massage that we’ve all heard – the ‘no pain, no gain’ myth.
The ‘No pain, no gain’ myth.
Perhaps a previous therapist or friend once told you that deep tissue massage is ineffective without feeling sore when receiving? Well, fortunately that isn’t the truth! Now, don’t get me wrong. Your therapist will push you close to the edge at times during a remedial massage session. It is their job to apply pressure to challenge the tissue enough to coax a positive response. We call this the therapeutic edge. The layer of tissue where anymore pressure is too much and takes your breath away and any less pressure causes no change in the tissue.
Let’s explore the reasons why massage doesn’t have to be painful:
Symptoms sometimes respond positively with less pressure.
If you present for treatment on a painful symptom, you are in the reactive or ‘relief’ phase of care. The soreness needs to be relieved before it is appropriate to apply deep focused pressure. In such circumstances the symptom needs to reduce in pain before it will stay relaxed whilst being treated. It can sometimes take 2-3 relief focused treatments to get the pain to disappear before the treatment becomes correction focused. Leaving pain aside, some bodies also respond brilliantly to lighter touch and don’t necessarily need the same muscle challenge unless the person really wants it.
Some chronically tense muscles don’t feel sensation or pain.
It is amazing but we often experience people who feel almost nothing when we’re elbow deep in their muscles. Now to be fair, it’s often on their first visit and their muscles are usually crunchy and completely chronically knotted together. The irony is that they can often feel more sensation and pain in subsequent treatments. This happens because their muscles respond to treatment and neural pathways re-establish to again communicate signals or sensations to the brain. After a few sessions and normal function is restored, we are often able to re-apply deeper pressure without the negative consequences of pain.
As you have read, just because your massage wasn’t painful, it does not mean that it hasn’t worked. However, if you know that your massage pressure was too light and didn’t create the tissue change you needed it will be essential to let your therapist know on your next visit. There is a fine line for therapists to thread, especially on a new body as they get to grips with learning it’s responsiveness.
That is why your therapist may have erred on the side of caution and may have got the pressure wrong for you. Your therapist would be more than happy and capable of choosing a deeper layer of tissue on your next visit.
Thank you for your trust in using our service.
Agata and team.
Has this article answered your question? Yes/ No
Would you like to arrange a consultation with a clinic director? Yes/No