Whether you’re getting a Swedish massage, a Deep Tissue massage, or almost any other kind, you should expect your massage to feel good. It should be a healing experience. And it might be a little painful.
Some massage, especially the work that gets at the deeper muscles, can be uncomfortable, sometimes even painful. But there is “good pain” and “bad pain.” Do you know the difference?
“Good pain” may be uncomfortable and intense, but there is also a feeling of relief from the pain or the release of tension. The pain is bearable enough that you are able to breathe comfortably and keep your muscles relaxed enough to allow the massage to really get into the tissue. It hurts, but you expect something good to come of it, and it is tolerable. Think of it like the soreness and fatigue you feel after a good workout. It isn’t pleasant at the time, but you can tolerate it, and it’s worth the pain for the outcome you get.
“Bad pain” makes you cringe or flinch away from the pressure or to hold your breath. There is nothing good coming from the pain. It is just flat-out painful. You wish that it would stop. There is no therapeutic benefit from bad pain in massage. With bad pain, there is only tension and pain, with no release.
A good massage may hurt somewhat at the time, but it should be within your tolerance, and it shouldn’t hurt for long afterwards. A day, maybe. If you find yourself still hurting 3 or 4 days after your massage, the therapist went too fast or too deep (or both).
Your therapist should warn you when a certain technique may cause “good pain”, and will ask for feedback through out the massage to ensure that you are getting good pain rather than bad pain, and that it is within your limits. At the same time, though, you have a responsibility. If your are receiving a massage and experience pain, tell your therapist immediately. Don’t wait to be asked. We are massage therapists, not mind readers, and so we depend on you to communicate with us during the massage to make sure that you get the best and most beneficial massage possible.