No pain, no gain, right? Wrong.

In my work, I am consistently disheartened by the misconception that only massage that excessively hurts, works.

Similarly, I notice a consistent misconception that deep tissue means only one thing: having someone steamroll painfully over spastic musculature to get to deeper spastic musculature.

Those muscles are in spasm because the brain is telling them to be. They often stay locked in place due to physical constrictions derived from your fascia conforming to things like habitual postures and injury compensation patterns, and yes, clearing that hurts, and often, addressing trigger points and adhesions hurts.

In my professional opinion, this pain process is part of a bigger one, of working to retrain your brain, subconscious nervous holding patterns, habitual postural stressors and body mechanics to address the underlying causes of these things.

When people claim that only massages that leave them horse from screaming for the majority of their sessions work for them, or that they don’t like deep tissue because it always hurts so much, I feel an intense protective alarm go off.

Unless what you’re actually looking for is the pain itself, or the rushing sensation of activity and relief when the pain has stopped (which is perfectly fine, but isn’t the business I am in), I firmly believe there are more effective ways to get results than to fight your body and keep you in a stressed and guarded state for the entirely of my session with you.

Even if your bodywork sessions are consistently and constantly cry-out painful and rough, you will more than likely feel sensation and the release of your meat once you’re done. This is to be expected, just as it is to be expected that if you place weight on a raw steak the fluids will leak out, or by pounding at it with a wooden utensil the fibers will be tenderized.

For people who have only felt this, or a superficial disconnected massage with no heft behind it, it’s clear why many people would go for the one that at least feels like it’s doing something.

However, the cause of the patterns you are attempting to address as a live human is the nervous system, which under duress and constant pain will more likely respond by locking down further to protect you from attack than by letting go.

It is no accident that the people who came to me asking to get steamrolled early in my practice, whom I gave what they asked for, returned to me time and time again just as tight and uncomfortable as they did the session before, and the session before that, and the ten sessions before that.

It is also no accident that one of the most profound of deep tissue modalities, carniosacral, which addresses the cranial plates in the head and is informed by sending the flow of cerebral spinal fluid, is also one of the most slow and subtle.

I propose that an accord needs to be respectfully reached to achieve stable, long lasting results: not sledgehammered. And in case there is doubt, feedback from my clients describes my work as anything but superficial or fluffy.

Are you currently a ‘grit your teeth and bare it’ bodywork receiver who is frustrated with their lack of long term progress? I suggest that not all massage that respects your senses is wimpy or useless or ineffective, and not all massage that causes discomfort is bad. If you want, I can show you what I mean.

Take care of you,
-nee

Posted in Common Misconceptions