The short answer? “Yes. Yes that is a muscle.”
Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the major muscles of the body, like quads, hamstrings, and I think everyone knows their bicep just from flexing your arm in the mirror. These areas are very meaty, and very obviously muscle. But muscle isn’t always thick and meaty.
There are lots of thinner, smaller muscles throughout your entire body, from between your ribs, to around your eyes, and even at the base of your skull. Your entire skeletal structure is pretty much COVERED in muscle, aside from the top of your head. Taking a look at the anatomy picture, you’ll see mostly red–lots of meaty muscle–and some white, which is actually not bone, but the tendons where your muscles attach to your bones. And under that white? Usually more muscle. Some muscles just lie a little deeper than others.
But when massage therapists are working, we’re affecting the muscles of your body. Some areas may feel more meaty, some areas may feel more bony. But on top of those bones is muscle, and that’s what we’re dealing with.
So the next time you wonder “is she working a muscle?” just remember that anatomy picture up there. Anywhere I touch, it’s all muscle.