Pain during a massage; is it normal?

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After reading this post, you should be able to tell the difference between nasty pain that might be a necessary part of massage therapy, and ugly pain that is just abusive.

Why would a massage hurt?

A home massage therapist with Viv's in-Houz Spa, a mobile wellness spa in Nairobi, giving back massage to a client.

At certain times during the massage, you may feel some discomfort or pain as the massage therapist works on areas where there are adhesions or scar tissue.

In fact, your body may tense up in response to pain, making it harder for the therapist to reach deeper muscles. Always tell your therapist if you feel pain during the massage. The therapist can adjust the technique or further prep the tissues if the superficial muscles are tense.

Unfortunately, many people misconstrue pain and soreness as evidence that a massage is working.

Gritting your teeth under the pressure of too-intense massage only adds to your body’s tension, further hardening those muscles that desperately need to soften.

Communicate with your massage therapist

This means that too much force will make muscle molecules cling together and almost harden, but apply a slower force, and the tissues easily slip apart, allowing the muscle molecules to open, soften, and separate. If you’re feeling real pain during or after your massage, talk to your therapist about adjusting their technique.

The goal is to apply just the right amount of pressure to kick-start that relaxation response, loosen and lengthen your muscles, and release tension rather than add to it. This helps you feel good both during and after your session.

Be relaxed

Ensure the surroundings are comfortable and pleasant. The room should have an ambient temperature. I prefer soft scents that aren’t very overpowering. But, it’s completely up to you.

A relaxed client

I pair it with some soft, soothing music in the background. I usually go for the sounds of nature. Think of birds chirping, winds blowing, and at certain times waves crashing.

Although, we all have different preferences I play something that should make you relaxed.

Less or more pressure?

The reason the Pressure Question exists is that it’s hard for clients to tell the difference between nasty pain that might be a necessary part of therapy, and ugly pain that is just abusive. Not everything that hurts is therapeutic, and not every therapeutic procedure is painless! It fascinates me just how different people can be in this regard.

The pressure that would be quite comfortable for one person, would certainly cause severe pain and emotional distress in another.

A home massage therapist putting pressure on the thigh during a deep tissue massage, Viv's in-Houz Spa, Nairobi

These differences can also occur between body parts. Pressures that worked well on the back can prove to be disastrously intense in the lower legs. And pressure tolerance changes with time, the pressure that seemed fine on Tuesday can feel brutal on Friday.

All of this highlights the necessity of massage therapy that is:

  • Communicative
  • Respectful
  • Attentive

That is, regardless of all other considerations, a massage therapist must talk to you about pressure, respect your preferences (this is more important than any treatment ideology), and be careful about stumbling into areas that need much less pressure (for comfort) or much more pressure (for satisfaction).

And if the therapist isn’t communicative, respectful, and cautious, be ASSERTIVE! Politely demand the pressure you want.

Viv's in-Houz Spa, a Mobile Wellness & Beauty spa, Nairobi

Are you experience muscle tension, pain, and/or aches? Or do you just need to relax? If so, please schedule your massage appointment now and I will come to your home, office, or other preferred location and do what I do best.

I want to hear about your massage experiences. Log-in and leave a comment. Or even post a question.

Last Updated on August 6, 2022


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