by Carl Parnham RMT
What a lot of people don’t understand about massage, including some RMTs, is that going deep is usually not indicated on the first treatment. I’m not just talking about avoiding an acute injury showing up with inflammation or bruising. I’m talking “normal” states and the human body’s greatest ability – its ability to adapt to change. It takes time and repetition, like the stages of building up capacity in an exercise. Athletes in martial arts know this when they enable their limbs to give and receive blows without bruising through stage-wise conditioning, taking progressive impacts on the arms or legs, with recovery in between, allowing the body to adapt and evolve to meet the physical stress.
When someone has lived their life (or even months) in chronic pain and has never had a massage before, they most likely should not have a very deep massage. After 2 or 3 treatments your body starts to recognize the same touch and your muscle release easier and faster. Your muscles become conditioned and the connective tissue strengthens in response to a progressive “stress” of massage, and can now take more pressure. Here the massage therapist is able to go deeper and have a greater release of soft tissues. This is why it is so important to reform how we see a deep tissue massage. First of all, it shouldn’t have to hurt – the tissues need to be prepared and engaged as they are ready. And second, there should be a realization that to achieve a deeper therapeutic goal takes stages over time. Through a few, regular and consecutive treatments we can move forward systematically, without pain, to let the body do its work during the in between times – the same as rest and recovery are important in cardiovascular training and body building! We consider the old saying, “no pain, no gain”, may not be true in our work here at the clinic.