Is Massage Supposed to Hurt? Painful or not painful?
Most of the people think massage should be painful, are they right?
Once again Rocio brings another amazing post, this time she writes about Pain or not Pain on Massage Therapy.
Painful or not painful?
Well… definitely not painful.
To be able to understand, we need to know that our body is nothing but energy behaving as matter. When the smallest component of a cell is observed closely we see nothing but a magnetic field similar to a miniature tornado. Our body is made of cells; each cell has 1.4 volts of energy which multiplied by the number of cells in our body (50 trillion) we get a total of 700 million volts of electricity in our body. Pretty strong stuff!
Illness and physical pain are the result of a blockage in the free circulation of that energy. Being aware of this, we get to also understand the way through which a massage therapist connects with our body (we are but different magnetic fields part of the same big picture). The therapist’s awareness of this reality as well as her/his focus and sensory ability to feel will determine the effectiveness of the treatment. So remember, it’s not the technique so much but the therapist.
The answers I get back when I ask people why would they choose a painful experience over a pain free massage? They go from… “my body needs it”, “I had a relaxing massage and did nothing to my pain”, “if it’s not painful it’s just a relaxing experience”, “I need to feel pain otherwise I can’t feel you are doing anything” “I know it won’t work if it’s not painful” and so on and so on. I was a hard massage therapist myself not so long ago so I might be able to bring some light into the question.
Let’s analyse those affirmations one by one to find out if they are true or not.
“My body needs it”
Well, your body is in pain, it doesn’t need more pain. A painful massage might feel great to you and it certainly can relieve some of the pain but my experience has shown me that first, it comes back; second, it’s a limited technique and so is it’s outcome and third, a much greater relieve is obtained when we instead of pressing and pushing hard into the muscle, invite the tissue into our hands. The deeper we move into the body, the slower and softer the touch needs to be. Being harsh it doesn’t mean it’s working deeper, quite the opposite.
(If you hit water with an open hand you’ll spill water everywhere and even though water has a small resistance you will need to apply more energy in order to get to the bottom than if you gently sink your hand in).
Our body behaves like water; it’s an intelligent bio we are trying to connect with so we need to ask permission first and then be gentle in our approach. If we don’t do this the body will see us as an intrusive energy and will close up to protect itself preventing us from a positive outcome or limiting it considerably.
So no, our body doesn’t need more pain.
“I had a relaxing massage and did nothing to my pain”
Ok, so that’s what happened, that’s true. A lot of us have had a bad massage experience that didn’t work for us. The thing is, after that experience if your mind linked relaxing with not effective then automatically created the belief that all relaxing massages won’t work.
That’s the same as believing that sex is not pleasant after having had a bad experience. What keeps you from doing that is the fact that you have previous experiences or information that prove the opposite. With massage we might have never had a healing experience so far so our argument cannot be contrasted and debated; so we believe it. Being humble, aware of our lack of experience and knowledge in the topic and being open to be wrong or to discover something new opens up the doors for great things to happen.
It might not have been the right therapist; it might have been because you expected it to get you out of pain in a session and found out that it didn’t happen.
What we know certainly limits us sometimes so, yes you might have had a bad experience but I’d certainly question the belief that they are all going to be the same.
“I need to feel pain, otherwise I can’t feel anything”
Well yes; they don’t teach us how to relate with pain in life, we learn for ourselves. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “when we learn to suffer, we suffer much less”. We agree to celebrate life when we feel happy but we don’t allow ourselves to feel sad. The same thing happens with pain and pleasure. We celebrate pleasure but what happens when we experience pain, despair, loneliness… We label them as bad feelings and we close ourselves not to feel, we look for someone or something to blame, we fill our life with lots of things to do in order not to feel them; we fear those sensations. The truth is that as part of life, those sensations were there before we labelled them as bad, they are not harmful and they need to be felt, otherwise we become slaves, we become attached to them. When we close ourselves to them we close ourselves to pleasure as well; we loose capacity to experience life to the fullest and we loose capacity to feel during a massage. The more closed someone is the lesser will feel. We need to slowly reconnect with our body, embrace whatever needs to be felt and keep practising that during our daily life. That way we develop our sensitivity and we allow our body to sense a deeper pleasure; massage becomes then a very stimulant and can be an ecstatic experience.
You don’t feel it, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
As you gradually reconnect with your body you become more powerful, the massage session will also increase it’s power as well.
I hope it helped to clarify some questions
To finish I’d like to highlight that our thoughts affect the way our cells behave, being sometimes the direct root cause of our physical pain. Mind, body and soul are deeply interrelated and healing is a process and a compromise that requires patience, self-compassion and dedication. Healing is in your hands.
Take care of your body; be aware of your thoughts.