I have rather taken against the term ‘deep-tissue massage’ – even though I use it on my website. I prefer these days just to call myself a sports massage therapist or a massage therapist. Actually, I’m not all that keen on ‘sports massage therapist’ either – only a small percentage of the people who come to see me in Islington come with a sports injury. So let’s say I’m a massage therapist who uses deep-tissue and neuromuscular techniques.
My issue with ‘deep-tissue’ is partly that it probably puts some people off coming to me in the first place – they fear they are going to be rolling about in pain for an hour. And partly because it seems to attract people who want me to drill into every ‘knot’ with as much force as I can muster. No, this isn’t what I do.
Unlike Donald Trump, I do not believe in the efficacy of torture and no one should be under the illusion that deep-tissue massage is about exerting as much force as possible on ‘hard’ spots of the body. That really would be crazy. I'd never have a return client and it would ensure that I ended each day in a state of frazzled exhaustion.
And yet …
I do love good pressure. When I get a massage myself, I want those anatomical tools of the trade – thumbs, fists, knuckles and elbows – to do their job, working their way through layers of restriction or contraction and yet always staying on the side of good pain – remember folks, they are tools not weapons. If as a therapist I make you wince a bit, that’s ok. I have found your pain threshold for that point. I can now hold back, ease off. If I simply ignore the signs I’m getting from you and carry on with the same level of pressure causing you to tighten and grimace and stop breathing, then I am no longer a therapist. I’m a sadist.
There is a point where the pain is good pain, you don’t want anything stronger, possibly for a second or two it’s on the edge, almost too much but not quite, ‘please, just hold it there’ – the pain is exquisite! When can I book again?!
Deep-tissue techniques used judiciously at points throughout a massage and combined with many other techniques, can be amazingly effective. And they should feel just wonderful.