“Deep Tissue Massage” Can Be Too Deep
DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE
Deep tissue massage is usually defined as manual therapy work aimed at the deeper structures of the body, such as the muscles, tendons, etc. Typically, clients LOVE this type of work! When treating, I am told pretty often that I can work as deep as I can. But is there such a thing as a massage being too deep? Yes, absolutely. Most people assume that massage therapy is completely safe and never even think there is any risk involved. For the most part, massage is safe and negative side effects and/or injury are extremely rare. But it can happen and we feel that people need to be aware of this and know how to avoid it.
WORK WITHIN YOUR COMFORT LEVEL
Most people report feeling wonderful after a massage! The best way to make sure you feel great is to always have the therapist work within your comfort level. If it hurts, tell us. If your therapist doesn’t comply or tells you the pain is necessary, ask to stop the session. Some people think more pressure and more pain equals more therapeutic benefits, but that is not the case.”No pain, no gain” does not apply here! As therapists, we do not know what you are feeling and even a lighter touch can produce pain in some situations so communication is key.
POSSIBLE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF MASSAGE
So what can possibly go wrong during a massage? Excessive deep tissue massage can cause injuries to soft tissue, compress nerves or can aggravate existing injuries and chronic pain. Massage also mildly stresses the nervous system, which is why I usually recommend shorter sessions (30 min – 60 min) for people dealing with pain. Post massage soreness and malaise (PMSM) can happen after an excessively deep massage and is essentially caused by the waste products of an injured muscle, similar to muscle soreness after a hard workout. The neck is a vulnerable area for us and extreme care should be used by therapists when treating this area so close to nerves and the spine. Again, if the massage is uncomfortable/painful, please let your therapist know and have them stop immediately.
AVOIDING INJURY DURING A MASSAGE
Again, the above outcomes are EXTREMELY rare and for the most part, healthy people are unlikely to be injured from a massage. You can avoid injury by:
1. Communicating with your therapist and working within your comfort level
2. Ending any session where you feel your well being is compromised
3. Seeing only Licensed Massage Therapists for treatment (not that you cannot be hurt by someone properly licensed, however at least you know they have been through proper training)
4. Documenting any health issues/concerns on our intake form, even those you might not feel are relevant for a massage
Massage Therapy can provide wonderful benefits and can make you feel great! We just urge people to seek out properly trained therapists and realize that nothing, even massage, comes with no risk involved when not done correctly.