I’ll be honest – yes it can hurt. But time after time, clients tell me that this is a “good pain”, something that has the feeling that it is worth working through to come out the other side.
Deep tissue massage has to get down deep within your muscles. I can use tricks like a warm room, and the application of the heat lamp, to help soften the tissues, and massage techniques can also soften away layer upon layer so I can go deeper and deeper.
When I find a problem, it is most commonly where there has been a small injury in the past which has got itself stuck into a knot or where there is area of congestion or spasm. Muscles need a blood supply not only to do the work of contracting (which is when they do their work) but also to relax again afterwards. Sometimes a portion of a muscle will contract so tightly, that it then restricts its own blood supply and cannot then relax, whether you want it to or not. This congestion or spasm is painful, and if there is a past injury in the mix, then there is likely to have been a small amount of scar tissue formed as well, which being sticky can then unhelpfully bind the muscle fibres together to form a knot.
Both these types of problems can be resolved with Sports or Remedial Massage. Knots can be teased apart by breaking down the scar tissue. Congestion and spasm can be persuaded to relax, by pressing in the right places to stimulate a reflex, and by the working of the tissues to bring fresh blood supplies – both of which will then allow the fibres to relax.
None of this is entirely pain free, I’ll admit, but the intention is never to cause unnecessary pain, and to limit what pain there is to what you can comfortably tolerate. To work effectively I need you to be relaxed, so imposing undue pain which makes you tense up is counterproductive to the treatment, as well as unpleasant for you. During a treatment, I frequently ask about the levels of pain being experienced, often using a scale of 1 – 10, to ensure it is at worst bearable.
Finally it’s worth noting the good news. Restoring proper function where previously there was a knot or an area of spasm or congestion feels good. The muscle will work properly again, and there will be no pain (though there can be some soreness for a day or two afterwards if it takes a while to break the problem down).