My massage teacher would call it the point of “exquisite pain.” And what’s wrong with that? Considering the price of good body work these days, you should expect to feel results, right? Unfortunately many people misconstrue pain as evidence that they are getting a “good” (if not great) deep tissue massage. Well – I think the whole thing is hogwash, and let me tell you why…
It’s my contention that holding your breath and gritting your teeth under the pressure of a too-rigorous kneading simply defeats the purpose of massage. And asking your masseuse to “go deeper cause I’m tough [guy/girl] and can take the pain” only adds to your body’s tension levels, making those muscles that desperately need to soften do the exact opposite.
Think about this: when has a muscle IN PAIN ever “relaxed?”
The answer is “never.”
Look at it this way; a masseuse aggressively digging into muscles is like performing one of those science experiments in elementary school where you combined cornstarch with water. Remember that weird concoction that was solid but not solid? The more you prodded the substance (or muscle), it hardened, yet when you stopped, it softened to a malleable goo.
This property is called thixotropy (talk about a tongue twister!).
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that too much force will make muscle fibers clench together and almost harden. When you apply a firm but methodical amount of pressure, the fibers easily thread apart, thereby allowing your muscles to relax, release, and rejuvenate.
That said, I’m no wimp when it comes to doling out the pressure! There are some times when some discomfort is necessary to the overall treatment. However, this type of aggressive approach isn’t meant to irritate sore muscles even further, and it’s never intended to beat your muscle fibers into submission.
Instead, the goal is to apply just the right amount of pressure and firmness to kick-start that relaxation response, loosen and lengthen muscles, add to muscular balance & tone. It’s to release tension rather than add to it…
Now, if you are now reminded of a dull ache or a painful kink you need to get worked - that’s just your body telling you it’s time to come see me for a little “S & M” session (stretching and massage, that is..)
Listen to your body.