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Why 'deeper' isn't better in massage

As a licensed massage therapist since 1998 (over 26 years of experience), I've heard it all: "Go deep, I can take it!" or "The deeper the better, right?".  But here's the secret most people don't realize: relaxation, not pain, is the key to a truly beneficial massage.


An approach that prioritizes presence, not pressure is not only more comfortable but also more effective, and some might not agree, but usually the clients who say they cannot get enough pressure are guarding their tissue and their nervous system will not allow deeper pressure, that is why no one can get deep enough for them.


Why? Because true healing comes down to one thing: your nervous system.

Think about it. When you walk into a massage session, your body is on high alert. It's constantly scanning the environment, deciding if it's safe to let go. If a massage therapist comes in guns blazing with deep pressure, it can trigger a fight-or-flight response, making your muscles tense up even more.


The magic happens when we create a sense of safety and trust. When your nervous system feels it's okay to relax, that's when real release and rejuvenation can occur.

Here's what this means for you:


  • Communication is Key: Let your therapist know your goals – relaxation, stress relief, pain management – and be honest about your pain tolerance.

  • Listen to Your Body: Pain is a signal, not a badge of honor. If a technique hurts, speak up! A good therapist will adjust accordingly.

  • Focus on Feeling Good: Sometimes, the most effective massage feels oh-so-good, not like a battle.


Resources for Further Exploration:




Remember, massage is a journey, not a destination. By prioritizing relaxation and open communication with your therapist, you can unlock a world of benefits, without the pain.


Now, let's get down to the real question:  What does a "good" massage feel like for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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2 Comments


so true. Deeper is not the answer to a beneficial massage. I am a LMT in San Antonio, TX and I am small statured but strong. However, I have had people not like my work because the pressure was not deep enough. Too bad for the both of us, but I do not want to hurt my body to help them feel better. I agree with the nervous system and that is the way to have a pleasurable experience that is beyond skin deep. Thank you.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It's tough because until the client has the personal experience of softening and inviting the work, they will continue to believe that force is what they 'need'. Keep on keeping on, you are on the right track!

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