How much is enough?

“I don’t want you to think I’m a wimp”

“My (spouse, friend, coworker) said it has to hurt to be effective.”

“I know I have a lot of tight muscles, but don’t work out the knots, I just want to relax.”

When I talk to a new client about finding the right amount of pressure for them, these are some of the responses I commonly hear.   Which is a perfect opportunity for me to share my philosophy on what is the right amount of pressure.

How much is enough?

Many clients come in with a particular problem or area that is interfering with their tennis game, gardening, or ability to do their job.  The right pressure when working with an injured or problem area is enough to feel some discomfort, but not painful.  Some people call this a ‘hurts good’ feeling.  You know, you can tell that’s the muscle that has some restrictions or tension, but you are able to relax and breathe into the massage.   If you notice yourself tensing other muscles, holding your breath, or hoping the massage ends soon…… you need to ask your therapist to lighten up!    More is not better in this case, you want enough pressure to be effective, but not so much that you cause more trauma to the tissues.

If you’re like the third person and just want to paper yourself, and relax, then a soothing massage without focus work on problem areas is right for you.   Sometimes a client may schedule an appointment to work on a shoulder that’s bothering them, but when they come in they’ve had a stressful day or a traumatic life event and the shoulder seems less important and just a good overall relaxation massage is the right thing.

The right amount of pressure varies from person to person, heck it even changes on the same person.  Firmer pressure may feel great on your calves, but much less is needed on your low back, and the next time you get a massage all that could change again.

So at you next massage remember it’s not a endurance  competition, it’s about healing and feeling better.