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Massage Misconceptions (and the Reality Behind Them)

Megan here. I’ve noticed that people have lots of different ideas of what massage is and how it can help them. I absolutely love educating my clients about massage. That’s why I always take the time to address these common misconceptions when they come up. So today I want to tell you about three of the most common ones I hear in my practice and shed a little light on how, by understanding the truth behind these misconceptions, you can get even more out of your massage therapy.

Misconception #1: Relaxation massage means light pressure.

In my experience, I’ve found that people either want a relaxing massage or a deep tissue massage, where relaxing means light pressure and deep tissue is…well…deep. However this isn’t always the case. I believe that no matter what kind of massage you’re receiving, it should be relaxing to you. Relaxation is a significant benefit of massage and often you simply cannot get a massage without that benefit.

But relaxation is different for everyone. Relaxation doesn’t necessarily mean a light massage. For some clients, deep tissue work is relaxing. Other clients get more relaxation out of light pressure and MFR techniques (similar to stretching). Since we’re all different, we can all experience relaxation in a different way.

Misconception #2: I have to be in a lot of pain for a deep tissue massage.

“No pain no gain, right?”. This is one of the biggest misconceptions in massage and I hear it on a regular basis. You can actually be hurting the tissue on a cellular level if pressure is too deep. As a good rule of thumb, I never want my clients above a 7 on their own pain scale. This scale is often scary to people because no one wants to admit they’re in pain — they want to be tough.

It’s also very important to let your therapist know if the pressure is too much. Keep in mind we cannot feel what you’re feeling. You should never leave a massage bruised (unless you’re receiving fire cupping or gua sha). However, it is normal to be sore the next day or two from deep tissue work.

Deep tissue work can be immensely beneficial, but it doesn’t have to be painful.

Misconception #3: Can’t you just fix me?

In my experience so far as a therapist, I have had many clients walk in my office and say “ok fix me”. A lot of them are half joking I’m sure, but there actually is a real misconception with this. The problem with this misconception about being “fixed” is that there are many variables in daily life that can cause these pains. For example, almost every person who works at a desk with a computer has upper back, shoulder, and/or neck pain. This is simply from poor posture and being sedentary in the same position all day.

Think about it like this: your head can weigh anywhere from eight to ten pounds on average. So if you took a bowling ball of that weight and put in on the end of a rod, held the other end and leaned the bowling ball forward, how much heavier did that become? Now think about how your neck and back muscles feel all day.

By finding these daily stressors on the body, you can help to prevent or decrease pain throughout your daily life. This is my favorite job as a massage therapist because it’s like a puzzle and everyone has different challenges in their lives. Keep in mind it may take a few massage sessions to help you get to where you’d like to be depending on how your body responds to different modalities and what kind of trauma it’s been through. Mixing massage therapy and an at-home self-care plan can help you live a more pain-free life.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you in here on my massage table soon!

Take care,
Megan

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