Deep Tissue Massage Myth — No Pain, No Gain 4

Deep tissue massage

As a massage therapist, part of my job is to make sure you’re enjoying and benefiting from the pressure I use. Is this pressure okay? Not too light? Not too deep?
And, inevitably, I will get clients that respond “It’s okay… No pain, no gain, right?”


Massage doesn’t need to be painful to work well. In fact, if the pressure your therapist is using makes you want to tense your muscles, grit your teeth, clench your fists, or curl your toes in response, it is too much pressure. Your muscles begin to fight back against the massage, and as a result your massage loses a lot of therapeutic value.

If you like the feeling of a deep tissue massage, make sure to stay in the “hurts so good” range.

This isn’t to say deep tissue massages aren’t beneficial– they are! But only as deep as your body will let me in. As we use firm pressure to loosen up the top layers of muscle, we’ll eventually be able to work deeper and deeper. But don’t just lie there and “take it” when your massage is a little too deep for comfort. Speak up, let your therapist know they could lighten the pressure just a bit, and your body will thank you for it.


Leave a Reply

4 thoughts on “Deep Tissue Massage Myth — No Pain, No Gain

  • Amie Jo

    Did this person get a massage by a therapist using a cane or something? It looks like this poor person is a victim of domestic violence. I think I can honestly say that I haven’t bruised anyone, other than in class maybe, but not to this extent.

    • invigoratemassageandwellness

      I once had a client who bragged about getting a massage in China where they used wooden spoons to massage, and how bruised they were afterward. Bragging about their bruises! I gently told this client that a massage like that would impede any kind of healing process, and not to let me get that deep.

  • rayleana

    Interesting article, great insight. I would think that your client who got a “massage” in China using wooden spoons, may be referring to “gua sha” work rather than massage work? Not sure if you are familiar with gua sha… It is TCM, and it does produce petechia, which looks similar to bruising but is definitely not bruising. Petechia color that comes from gua sha work is not traumatic to the tissue like bruising, aka contusion. In TCM, color arising from gua sha (or cupping) is indicative of “stagnation”. The petechia marks do look a little scary, but there is next to no pain for the client either during or after gua sha. People like to show their gua sha or cupping marks, just like people like to show their tattoos. 🙂 Thanks again, I’m bookmarking this one.