No Pain – No Gain – Right? Wrong. The very short answer is (of course) NO!
General thoughts on this question include understanding that pain is a warning sign that the body is in danger of injury, and it should never really be ignored – It should also be recognised that there is a difference between pain and discomfort – and of course we need to remember that pain is unique to every individual … some people will proudly boast they have a high threshold to pain, while others will admit that feeling pain doesn’t make them happy. What we all need to remember is that the level of pain invoked DOES NOT directly correlate with the degree of resolution of your soft tissue problem.
Getting back to Pain being a Warning System for Protection against injury … The body also employs an automatic response to pain where all your muscles are contracted to brace against whatever is causing you pain – we in the ‘biz’ call this the Guarding Response. When the body feels pain enough that it begins guarding against contact, then the Treatment is over, and a Battle of Power begins.
The initial response generated in your body from a massage is to stimulate circulation (blood flow) – this helps the exchange of oxygen & nutrition (into) with metabolic waste (out of) muscle tissue, helping it soften and relax, which in turn eases your pain and/or mobility restriction. If your body starts to guard, the muscles tighten, and that restricts circulation as well as generating increased levels of metabolic waste, which in turn only aggravates your pain sensation.
If you can relax on the table during a treatment, you should be able to expect far greater results from your massage than if you don’t … and that includes avoiding the guarding response during a treatment.
Sure enough, some of the things we will address during a treatment will very likely be uncomfortable … it might even make you want to hold your breath – but that would not be a wise reaction either … Holding your breath will also restrict your circulation, and we already discussed what that can do for your pain. If you feel any uncomfortable sensation during a treatment – the best approach is to focus on your breathing and let us know you are feeling it … Trigger Point Release and some Myofascial Stretching/Release techniques can be challenging to feel, but they should NEVER be Painful.
Please always remember – There are no medals to be won here other than correction of postural imbalance and/or reversal of muscular tensions … As soon as we are causing you excessive pain – we are fighting your body and not treating it.