NEVER let a therapist just “GRIND” into you harder during a Deep Tissue Massage

You should never feel sore for more than 2-3 days.  If you do, reconsider your therapist.  Here’s why: 

Many therapists do not have good training. (Especially here in California where licenses aren’t even required.) Unfortunately, many schools teach the bare minimum to get a license.  They think that “Deep Tissue” means digging in harder.  NOT TRUE! 

Deep tissue requires very detailed training of anatomy and a dedicated set of techniques and strokes to achieve a measure of relief. ** It requires the skill of “sensing and feeling” the muscle and how much pressure/ what angle/ for how long to hold etc. until it relaxes. 

It should always be a “Hurt So Good” pain.  (Whatever that means to you.) If it’s more than that, the chemicals in your brain send signals to your muscles to tighten up  the goal is to get them to relax!  Many (untrained) therapists take the tightening as a signal to dig harder.  That just creates tears in your muscles which then create scar tissue which “glues’ your muscle fibers together and makes them weaker and unable to perform correctly.  This sets off a cycle of other muscles trying to compensate and more problems are created.   If the therapist doesn’t know this, FIRE THEM. 

Think of your muscle as a piece of raw steak. (Both are just muscle after all.)  If you grind your elbow into a steak and drag it across, you will damage the fibers.  Take a look at the picture I posted to see what happens. 

If you like the pain, that’s great. Just don’t mistake extreme pain for results.  You may feel more open afterwards, but once the scar tissue builds up over the next weeks, you won’t have the muscle performance you need, and you probably won’t realize it’s from the damage from the massage.  

Other signs to avoid a therapist: 

  • They say, “Just relax” as they are digging in and they ignore you when you ask them if they can “lighten up.” 
  • They ignore what you asked them to focus on.  If a therapist moves to another area they should be able to explain why that relates to your original area of complaint.  If there only reason is “Well you also have a knot over here…” FIRE THEM.  You may have a knot in your big toe but that is NOT why you came in!   
  • Please understand that it is a weird phenomenon with the people who are drawn to massage therapy that they don’t listen and do what they want regardless of what you want.  Do not assume they must know what they are doing, because (sadly) many of them don’t. 
  • They act anything but happy to readjust to what you ask for during the massage.  You shouldn’t feel afraid to keep asking for what you want. 

It makes me sad to hear all the horror stories of what people have gone through in a massage.  I want people to get better from massage.  We forget how good “normal” feels when we are in pain and good massage therapy can REALLY help you.   

Finding a therapist takes some trial and error.  I wish I had a foolproof source of where to look for them, but I find review sites helpful, and asking friends for references.  

I sincerely hope this info helps!  In good health, 

Christine Sage Johnson