It’s an urban myth that all pain is good and is simply part and parcel of a massage. Also, that a sports massage is the same as a normal relaxation massage just deeper and more painful. A deep tissue massage, with the clue in the name, really dives deep into the muscle fibre. Tight areas in the neck and upper back need slow and strong strokes. Hardened Shoulders and quads especially are a prime target but they can be difficult for the masseur to penetrate. When pain is caused, the muscles go into a “guarding” response and actually tighten up. If I need to release a “trigger-point” then you may temporarily feel some pain, but I will always work within your comfort levels and give you a full assessment beforehand to determine which approach is most appropriate.
What Is The Pain?
To better understand the pain you have to know what a deep tissue massage is attempting to do. Knots in the muscle can be broken up and scar tissue dislodged. Also, it can be used to eradicate adhesions that cause to parts of a muscle to become joined after scarring. These can all develop as part of your training or even just day-to-day life.
We’ve all had scars before. From a papercut that takes a few days to form a crust all the way up-to a post-operation scar. Now picture the same, inside on a muscle. After injury has occurred to the muscle the swelling begins, the inflammatory process and maybe some pain. New cells are brought in after this stage of protection. Collagen is a protein that arrives to help rebuild the area. Unfortunately the approach the collagen takes is somewhat disorderly and the repair is rough, like a blog of filler to fix a hole in a wall rather than a smooth sanded finish. With this clumping of collagen, as i hope you can picture, comes a lack of suppleness and flexibility. These buildups are what a deep tissue massage hits, reduces and clears to remedy the issue.
So, in conclusion, a deep tissue massage doesn’t require pain to be effective. It may feel uncomfortable when deep work is done to break up scar tissue. However, do not let this put you off. At DH Sport Massage we combat this is 2 ways. Initially we will warm up the muscle with lighter massages. This is a technique whereby i “melt” into the tissue, so we can do more effective work without the pain, progressively loosening the area so the deep strokes are less of a shock. Secondly we always encourage clients to speak up if the pain is too unpleasant, inform us and we can alter the approach or carry out further lighter work to further loosen.