Guidelines for Receiving Deep Tissue Massage

  • Be in constant communication with your practitioner. It is important to tell your practitioner what you want worked on and then tell them when things hurt, how painful it feels, where does it radiate to, when to apply more pressure and most importantly, when to STOP.
  • Be willing to express the pain.  Move with the pain or however your body feels like moving. You are not required to lay motionless during a session. Verbally express the pain; yelling, moaning, crying, and swearing are all acceptable forms of releasing the pain. You are allowed to express yourself in any way you feel necessary.
  • Focus on what it feels like to be on the table. Be aware of what every  breath feels like.  What muscles are moving, what muscles are contracting and releasing. Is the air cool, warm, or just right? Does other areas of your body move or not move?  How does your body feel as it lays on the table? Can you feel the contact in all areas?  Do some areas not touch the table?
  • Be aware of your breath. Your breath can assist you in staying with the pain or other feelings that arise. Breathing into the pain so that area of the body is filled with air and then exhaling to release the area and any pain or emotion associated with that area. Can you feel what happens in the rest of your body as you breath? What muscles contract? What muscles relax? Can you feel the air go into your lungs and through the passageways?  Can you feel it move other areas of your body like the bones of your skull or the joints of your feet and ankles? Can you feel the exhalation take away the pain or reduce the pain?
  • Be in constant communication with your practitioner to inform them as to what you are feeling.
  • The practitioner should pause after working intensely in areas and allow you to feel the changes that have taken place.  How does the area feel? Does it lie differently on the table?  Does it tingle, feel more alive or just ache or throb? Is it different from the other side?
  • Can you tell what direction the pressure is in and how much pressure is being applied? The practitioner may ask you to assign a number to the level of pain that you are feeling ( 1-10 with 10 being the highest amount of pain you want to feel). Can you immediately assign a number to your pain level ? When asked to assign a number to the level of pain do you hesitate and think about it or do you immediately know? If you are able to say without hesitation this is a sign that you are more present in your body and with the pain.
  • Make sure you feel balanced and grounded when you leave the office. Do you feel shaky, nauseas, light headed or  sick in anyway?  Report these to your therapist at once.
  • When you are leaving the office see if you can notice any difference in how you walk?  How do you hold yourself? How does it feel to breathe?  How do other people look to you?  Does the world look any different?
  • Report any feelings to your therapist the next day or the next session.  Call them if you are not feeling well in any way.

Should deep tissue massage hurt?

There is much controversy over whether or not deep tissue massage should feel painful to the client or not.  Different therapist have different opinions on this topic.

 Many feel that deep tissue without pain is not being effective.  Clients may often feel that if they can’t feel pain, it isn’t doing any good.

The intention of deep tissue massage is to reach the deeper structures of the body.  To do this deep pressure must be applied to get through the superficial layers of the body.  The key to doing deep tissue work without inducing pain or more trauma lies in knowing how to use your Ki or energy and to use awareness to stay in touch with the clients body to be able to know when they are resisting more so that you can adjust the pressure you are applying.  A good deep tissue therapist will know how to do just that.

Often people like the pain of deep tissue massage.  (I used to be one of them.  I thought it felt good and was necessary to relieve the pain and tension.)  There will also be people who say that they have a high pain tolerance or they may even have spots in their muscles that are numb.   Do they really have a high tolerance for pain or are they just out of their bodies and not self aware?  Do people like to experience more pain and in some unconscious way continuing to cause themselves more harm?