I have just read an article by Eric Stephenson, a massage therapist who discusses the pain factor in massage. I’d like to dispel a few myths regarding pain and massage.
Many clients who come to me for massage, believe that if the massage is ‘hard’ and they feel pain, then it must be good. NO, NO. Not the case. Think about it. The reason for your muscle aches and pains is because your body is under stress and shouting for help. Now you come along and ask for a ‘hard’ massage and you put the body under even more stress.
Stephens points out one of the fundamental ideas of the Hippocratic Oath, which is “do no harm.” Yet clients think more pain will surely improve the problem. Actually it could make the problem worse in the long run.
As a matter of routine I look to use a penetrating deep tissue with the aim of relaxing and stretching muscle tissue, not by throwing it back into a contracted state by inflicting further pain. I am reminded of words my Alexander teacher once told me. The body has an innate wisdom, as a therapist if we can help a person’s body to recover by 70%, then the body will do the rest.