I read this and yelled, “Yippee!”
This, this, this!
We don’t often recommend articles in our profession’s literature to clients. Instead, we apply what we learn to your treatments so you can relax and enjoy the benefits.
However, this article is as much a gift to massage clients as to practitioners. The title of this piece by longtime bodywork professional, massage school owner, and author David Lauterstein says it all:
“To relieve muscle tension, deeper is not always better.”
What Lauterstein wrote nearly a year ago is as true now as it has been since creatures with central nervous systems appeared on the planet: we release tension only when we feel implicitly safe enough to release tension.
We know this from the biological sciences, the latest research, and our unconditioned gut feelings:
- Enduring treatable pain is not a virtue. Living with tension instead of seeking to release it does not score us life points.
- Relaxation is not a luxury, but essential for functioning and feeling as well as we can.
- Massage therapy can help you relax.
So why do clients continue seeking “deep-tissue massage” that hurts? And why do practitioners keep providing it?
“The false assumption underlying bad and common deep tissue work is that to get a great therapeutic effect, therapists need to apply a lot of massage pressure.
“This is false—in fact, it is as naïve as assuming that for music to be effective, it needs to be loud—because the relaxation of muscles is largely not a result of massage pressure; it is the result of the nervous system turning off the message for the muscle to be tight.”
I couldn’t imagine it said any better. Lauterstein continues:
“The fact is, however, what is needed—whether we are working lightly or deeply—is more intelligence, more sensitivity, more anatomical clarity, and therefore generally less force.”
For Chris and me, this happened exactly as Lauterstein described:
“Ironically, we see that a few years down the line, after working in private practice or as employees for a while, massage therapists suddenly becoming fascinated with craniosacral work, party because it makes obvious that you do not really have to use a lot of pressure in order to have a deep effect.”
What will this reality do for you?
Have you already accepted, or will you begin to embrace, Lauterstein’s recommendation to clients that the best way for you to experience reduction in tension and relaxation is to create those conditions for yourself, inside and out, and enlist your massage therapist’s help to do so?
“With your letting go from inside-out and the therapist giving intelligent input with just the right amount of pressure, movement and intent, the therapeutic result will be deeper and more long-lasting.”
That’s what we’re here for. We welcome you to partake.