No Pain No Gain? Not On My Table
There seems to be the misconception when people come for a massage that they have to leave feeling as though they have been beat up for the massage to be effective. That gentler, focused work combined with relaxation techniques that leave you feeling as though your trouble areas were addressed while you were able to fully relax during your session can't possibly be as effective.
While in massage school I had two male instructors that worked in the same massage practice. Both were very successful, but each had his own approach to massage.
One told us that he practiced very deep specific work, the kind that might leave you feeling some soreness the next day. From what I gathered, his sessions didn't have a strong focus on relaxation. He told us he could spend an entire session working on a very small area of the body. There is nothing wrong with this type of work. It has it's place and this is the type of work his clients were seeking out.
The other instructor chose different modalities that were very gentle. It took more education on his part to help clients understand that his work was equally effective. He shared a story with us about a client who really wanted deep work, but this therapist really wanted to show him that gentle work could be just as effective and possible feel even better than the work he was requesting. They compromised on doing one leg the therapist's way and the other the client's way. Guess which method he preferred when he got off the table? The gentle work was just as effective and felt better than the really deep, painful work.
Relaxation and treatment work can coexist in the same session. Gentler techniques can be effective. I can still work deep into the tissue without causing a lot of pain by working more slowly and allowing the tissue to open up to me and if you are experiencing unwanted pain, I invite you to please speak up and tell me to lighten up. I cannot feel what your body feels so I have no way of knowing if I am causing pain or not.
While this is my preferred approach to work, I also want to do my best to listen to my clients and really hear what you want from your massage session. Do you want to just relax, do you have an area that you really want addressed and worked on or do you want to combine those two things?