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Does Deep Tissue Massage Hurt?

Deep tissue massage involves the application of sustained pressure on the inner layers of muscles using slow, deep strokes. This massage technique is used to treat musculoskeletal problems such as sports injuries and strains. Since it takes a different approach from the regular massage that you are used to, it is common for one to be concerned about the intensity of pain they may encounter during the session. This article discusses the process of deep tissue massage including the things to expect, why it is normal to experience soreness afterward, and the different kinds of pain in deep tissue massage therapy.

What To Expect During Your First Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massaging therapy.

If you have never gone through a deep tissue massage, you are more likely to be worried about the procedure based on what you may have heard from other people. However, just like any other treatment, your physical therapist will diagnose your issue and discuss with you what you hope to achieve with this kind of therapy. During the first few minutes of the session, your therapist will apply oil and use light pressure to warm up your muscles on the areas they will be working on.

The next step is known as stripping, a technique that involves the use of thumbs, elbows, forearms, or knuckles. During this procedure, you will feel some form of gliding pressure along your muscle fibers. Your massage therapist will then use friction to apply pressure across your muscle grains to release any adhesions that cause discomfort to realign tissue fibers.

The primary aim of the technique used in this type of massage is to break up adhesions, muscle tensions, and scar tissue that are embedded in the deeper musculature. It is common to feel some degree of discomfort during the session because your therapist will be applying a good amount of pressure. However, it should not hurt that bad so you should let them know if you are feeling too uncomfortable.

Why You May Experience Soreness After A Deep Tissue Massage

The same way you feel sore after a workout is how you may feel after a massage. This happens because the application of varying amounts of pressure on muscles stimulates certain areas of the body that have not been targeted recently. Deep tissue massage is more likely to cause post-massage soreness because of the amount of pressure applied on the grains of your muscles. The main reason behind this is that your muscles are not accustomed to this kind of massage, especially when you are doing it for the first time. However, with frequent massages, your body will create a muscle memory of what happens during deep tissue massage to keep your sessions normal or tolerable. The only time to be concerned is when the pain becomes intolerable during the session and a few days after the session.

Different Kinds of Pain in Deep Tissue Massage Therapy

  • The Good Pain

Good pain may feel like a contradiction but it always makes sense once you experience it. Good pain during deep tissue massage may involve an undeniably nasty feeling that is accompanied by a distinct sense of relief. It is quite difficult to understand how a painful massage can feel good at the same time. The only way we can generalize it as good pain is when you expect the pain to be followed by relief.

  • The Bad Pain

Bad pain in massage hurts but comes with benefits that may be subtle, delayed, or non-existent. The only good reason for painful massage is when it is focused primarily on myofascial trigger points. Muscle knots are sore spots that result in aching and stiffness. A deep tissue massage could focus on these points directly or indirectly based on the technique used. This is the kind of pain where it gets a bit worse before it gets much better.

  • The Ugly Pain

The worst kind of pain you may come across during a deep tissue massage is the ugly pain. This kind of pain is never okay. The benefits of deep tissue massage are not only, that it can also be dangerous to a patient. It could be characterized by excessive pressure or overstretch nerve pinching, skin tearing sensations, or disturbing inflamed and infected tissue.

You can experience some pain when having a deep tissue massage. However, you want more of the good pain than anything between the bad and the ugly. The pain tolerance may vary between different patients based on their initial diagnosis and underlying health conditions. However, it is important to talk to your therapist about the best course of action if you are feeling intolerable pain during the session, or the kind of pain that does not fade off after several treatments.