How much pressure is enough? Should deep tissue massage be painful? How deep is too deep?
Everyone is very different – we are sometimes surprised just how different. Pressure that would be comfortable for one person would certainly cause serious pain in another, possibly even injury. That’s why we train our staff to be communicative, respectful and attentive. Painful massage therapy is unfortunately common, but it is not the only kind available.
We can divide up massage pain into three categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Good pain is intense but somehow welcome, and probably what you want out of a massage. Bad pain is certainly unpleasant but not necessarily incompatible with therapy. Ugly pain is bad pain with no therapeutic benefit and so is a bad idea in every way:
Good pain. In massage, there is such a thing as “good pain” arising from a contradiction between the sensitivity caused by various types of muscle problems, and the instinctive sense that pressure is a source of relief from some of it — from trigger points (muscle knots) in particular. So pressure can be an intense sensation that just feels right somehow. It’s strong, but it’s welcome. The best good pain may be such a relief that really the only bad thing about it is just that it is intense.
Bad pain. Comes with no obvious benefits. If there is anything good about it, there is no way to tell from the sensation. Bad pains are usually sharp, burning or hot. Such pain is usually caused by excessive but harmless pressure. As bad as it feels, it probably won’t hurt you — maybe a little bruising — but there’s also a good chance that it won’t be therapeutic either. The big question about bad pain is whether or not it is ever justified.
Ugly pain. This is a type of pain in massage therapy that is never okay. Ugly pain is often caused by things that aren’t likely to offer even a delayed benefit. We strive to make sure you experience none of this type!
Here in London, our goal is to be applying the massage pressure that yields (unless you want an even more relaxing treatment) only good pain. This includes making adjustments to apply different pressure to different parts of the body – pressure that worked well on the back can prove to be disastrously intense in the lower legs.