As I grew in my career and got more education, I learned to know better.
So for those that still think as I did, lets clear something up right now, deep tissue massage is not deep PRESSURE massage.
I can work deeply in to your muscles and soft tissues with out using deep pressure just by slowing down my work and heating up the area first. Either with my hands or with a heating pack.
The problem with continuing this idea of "just push harder", is that it's counter productive. The harder you push, the harder the muscles push back. Muscle guarding, as it's called is a signal from the muscle that it has had enough. It won't let you continue to force pressure without injury to the tissue and nobody wants to feel MORE pain from the massage than what they originally came in with.
Many therapist retire early from over doing it on the pressure. Injuring and breaking down their own bodies in the process of trying to help and assist healing for their clients. This simply doesn't have to be the case.
Of course, I don't have anything against deep pressure. My favorite style of massage, Ashiatsu ( AKA DeepFeet Barefoot Bar Therapy) is ment to give deep pressure by design. Standing above the table and using the force of gravity + weight just makes that deep pressure happen effortlessly. What I don't like is the mis guided notion that deep pressure = pain and those silly sayings like " pain is weakness leaving the body." Or " no pain, no gain."
Actually, pain is a signal from your body telling you to stop, slow down, and take notice. Those ideas that pain is weakness have no place in massage therapy or fitness for that matter. I can't tell you how many of my clients have chronic pain from a sports or fitness related injury.
In my practice, communication between client and therapist is crucial. I can usually tell from muscle guarding or body language when I've reached the clients pain tolerance.....but not always. Sometimes muscles don't react or it's too subtle to notice, so my clients use a pain scale to alert me to any discomfort ( 1-10- 1 being no pain and 10 being excruciating pain.) If the pressure or pain goes past a 6 on their scale, they let me know and my work changes to accommodate them. Easy peasy! It keeps everyone happy and comfortable through out the session.
Deep Pressure: is exerting more pressure or force.
If it's done right, its AHHHmazing! If it's done wrong it's painful and dangerous to soft tissue and can have some emotional side effects as well. Done right, deep pressure can relax the nervous system, but used wrong, can send someone in to a panic. It's important to get training and learn a pressure intensive style thought the proper channels. I LOVE pressure and compression- giving it and receiving it. I choose to study with THE BEST- AOBT and Fijian Massage.
Is simply using techniques to access deeper muscular structures. Any technique will do but most often the therapist uses Myofacial release, Trigger Point Therapy, Friction, Compression, Traction, Heat and more- along with expert palpation skills to locate the specific muscle that needs the work. Sometimes you (on the client's end) will FEEL the depth of the pressure and other times you won't. It all depends on the technique being used. Some deep work is done very gently.
Do you enjoy deep pressure?
Have you ever left a massage feeling more pain than you came in with?