Updated: Jul 19, 2019
"No pain, no gain": a terrible but prevalent falsehood in massage therapy. Many people enjoy deep pressure during massage, and say things at the start of their treatment like: "I can take the pain" and "Do what you need to do, I can handle it" as if having a massage presents a physical challenge and is inevitably going to cause them considerable discomfort. Here's a little secret: deep massage pressure does not need to hurt!
"Primum non nocere" (First, do no harm) is the primary directive we are taught at massage school and I personally avoid causing "ouch!" moments for my clients at all costs, as once even the slightest anticipation of pain is present, the mind prevents the muscles from fully relaxing. Too much force deliberately plunged into an unrelaxed muscle, is, in my opinion, close to physical abuse, it causes bruising and prevents the therapist's goal of maximising body mechanics through careful stretching of muscle tissue. Once muscle is fully and accurately relaxed it can be manipulated deeply, compressed, released and stretched without pain. The massage may take a little longer, but it has better effect.
If your massage therapist hurts you, they are either rushing it, are anatomically inaccurate or under a now ancient illusion that brute force = effectiveness.
This article in Massage Magazine explains further and is worth reading if you are still of the mindset that massage needs to hurt in order to work.