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  • Michael Salcido

Deep Tissue, Patience vs. Pressure

Updated: Dec 1, 2018


A great Deep Tissue massage is hard to find, the right pressure, from too much or too little, and even from painful to a wonderful healing zen like experience. You might be thinking " How is it possible to have a comfortable deep tissue massage?" when all you have been introduced to is a painful "no pain, no gain" philosophy, when it comes to pressure. Maybe this masochist point of view was brought on because of the name "Deep Tissue" or maybe your first body worker was more aggressive with his or her pressure.


Either way, Deep Tissue does not require pain to be effective. In fact, you shouldn't feel pain at all when you receive Deep Tissue. Deep Tissue, only refers to the depth of the muscles fibers, or the tissue, your practitioner is focused on. In order to reach those Deeper Fibers it does not necessarily require 100 pounds of pressure drilled in through an elbow by an aggressive practitioner. In my experience, given enough time, and a calm environment the more superficial fibers will give way with light focused pressure to enable the practitioner into the deeper fibers beneath.


When pressure is the primary focus of the session, you might feel pain. Sometimes pain is good, within a scale of 1-10 your pain receptors should stay around a 7 or a hurt so good kind of feeling. Any Discomfort that goes beyond this scale may disrupt your massage, transforming into a battle rather than a recovery. Over a 7 you may begin to tense up which is the opposite of any goal of the session, your nervous system engages in what is called the fight or flight response (see more on Sympathetic/Parasympathetic nervous system). This pressure would be considered too much and will leave your massage session less effective than a calm and patient approach to deep tissue.


To be more precise the term used to describe when a muscle releases is MFR (Myofascial Release). There is an entire school of practice that focuses on this, but Deep tissue from an approach with patience is very similar. The practitioner in order to produce a release would hold a sustained amount of pressure on the muscle that requires it, either tight or knotted, until the muscle subtly gives way. Slowly the practitioner will make his or her way into the deeper fibers of the body. If this is done at the right pressure, deep tissue will be very relaxing.


Not all massage practitioners have the same touch, similarly not everyone has the same pain threshold or tolerance. So, it is very important that with every Practitioner you encounter you communicate every need or overwhelming sensation. Communication is the first key to a productive massage session.


Thanks for reading!

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