I’ve heard clients say (more than once!) that if a massage is not deep enough, then it won’t be beneficial. Or they won’t feel better. I have a few thoughts I’d like to share about this – starting with the fact that the above statement is simply not true.
There are so many benefits to massage, including relaxation, improved sleep, boosting the immune, digestive and circulation system, balancing blood pressure, and so much more. These benefits shouldn’t be taken lightly!
Of course, a big reason why clients specifically seek a massage is for pain relief – typically due to chronic or acute muscle inflammation or tension. When it comes to muscle tightness and pain, there can be many contributors: poor posture, stress, over excursion of muscles, exercise, injury, being sedentary…the list goes on.
No matter what the root of the issue is, going deep may not be necessary in order to get the relief you desire. It is important to first determine what type of massage/techniques would ultimately be most beneficial to you and your body. Since everyone’s body is different, every massage is customized to each person’s needs (makes sense, right?) At PK, we specialize in therapeutic massage for exactly this reason – “therapeutic” is what feels best to each person.
As self-care practitioners, it is our job to listen to your needs and use our intuition and experience to determine the techniques that will be the best match. For example, if you told us you wanted to relax and have some extra attention paid to your neck and shoulder area, we would not give a full-body deep tissue massage. We would provide a very relaxing massage with medium to firm pressure, and just spend additional time – and maybe apply some deep tissue techniques – to the neck and shoulder area to release any knots and muscle tightness. This ensures you will leave feeling better than when you came in.
Another reason deep tissue isn’t always the answer is because it can sometimes be counter-productive – meaning you may actually feel even tighter afterwards. There have been clients who have expressed to us that after getting a massage somewhere else, they received the deepest massage they ever felt – to the point where they felt they had been run over by a train when they left! This is because there is such a thing as too much. When that happens, your body will actually tighten up.
For those who experience the mind-body connection – where you are physically feeling the results of mental stress and vice versa – receiving a light or medium-pressured massage will be more beneficial than receiving a deeper massage. Instead of specifically focusing on the areas of the body that are causing you pain, the approach is to provide genuine relaxation so that the entire body can naturally release. This is also useful for those who physically shouldn’t or can’t receive a particularly deep-pressured massage. People who are diagnosed with cancer, are pregnant, or suffer from joint/soft tissue issues or dysfunction should avoid receiving overly deep-pressured massage.
Keep in mind that our muscles need TLC when they have been injured or inflamed. Going straight in with those very deep tissue techniques – especially if it’s not the type of massage you’re used to receiving – can potentially do more harm than good. Word to the wise: proceed with caution, work with a professional you trust, and communicate if your massage is too painful.