I get asked all the time what I feel, how do I “know” that spot hurts. The best analogy I have come up with is gummy bears. That squishy, slight resistance you get by smooshing a gummy bear is pretty similar to how muscles feel under the skin. The tighter or more sore you feel, the more “stale” the gummy bear. I’ve joked with patients before that their back or neck feels like an old, long forgotten gummy bear from last Halloween. But if your gummy bear is from years gone by, having me press on it hurts. A lot. So should a massage hurt? Maybe.
It might be a bit uncomfortable if I’m working on an area that has been giving you pain, but it should feel like a “good pain”. Once it crosses into flat out pain with no feeling of relief, I need to back off. If you start holding your breath or involuntarily moving away from me we are past your pain threshold for a massage. Some people are really good at hiding it, so please speak up. It doesn’t hurt my feelings when asked to give stronger or lighter pressure and no registered massage therapist should be continuing with the same pressure after being asked to lighten up.
Some people think a massage won’t work unless it hurts. Yes, there is a certain amount of pressure I need to use, but it’s usually a lot less than most people think. Technique is just as important as pressure in a good massage. Bruising and pain can be common after a massage, but if the soreness is more than when you started and lasts a couple of days, the pressure was too much for you.
How you enjoy the pressure given, whether it’s super deep or light and relaxing, comes down to personal preference.