Pain is personal.
I recently had a client who had never received a massage before. She was in her early 40’s and her appointment was booked as a surprise by a friend who regularly received massage treatments. She seemed a little unsure about what to expect, so I explained the difference between the treatment’s I could provide as a Remedial Therapist. She opted for a Relaxation massage.
I began the 60 minute treatment and noticed that she seemed quite comfortable almost instantly. I asked her if the pressure was okay, and she asked me to increase it a little more. I proceeded to give her a full body massage and she seemed completely relaxed.
After the treatment she couldn’t thank me enough and told me how much she enjoyed the massage. Then she said something I didn’t expect; “I thought massages were supposed to be painful” I explained to her that sometimes you can feel some discomfort during a remedial massage, however, it’s not supposed to be unbearable. Mostly people report that it’s a ‘good’ type of pain that they feel, and that’s the best way I can describe it from receiving massages myself.
Pain is relevant to the person. I cannot tell you how painful something ’should’ be or ‘is’ for you. Only you can determine that. Every person has an individual pain threshold that determines what they can and can’t tolerate in their bodies. That is why a health care professional or doctor will ask you to describe your discomfort on a scale of one to ten when asking about any pain you’re experiencing. This scale is easy to understand in terms of communicating pain because we assume that low numbers mean slight discomfort, mid numbers are mild and high numbers refer to extreme pain. Because we can’t actually feel what the other person is feeling, this scale becomes a tool for attempted understanding.
In regards to a massage treatment, I might use the exact same pressure and focus on one person that I use on another. The first person, ‘Person A’ feels complete bliss when I use this amount of pressure. ‘Person A’ leaves feeling completely relaxed and as though they’ve had a positive experience. While the next person, ‘Person B’, feels that that same pressure and focus is way too much to handle. ‘Person B’ doesn’t say anything and the therapist doesn’t notice any behavioural cue’s to back off. The treatment continues and ‘Person B’ leaves feeling uncomfortable and like they’ve been invaded.
This is why it is important to communicate with your massage therapist about what sort of pressure you enjoy or dislike. As a therapist, we can empathise with what you tell us and what we physically feel when palpating on your body, however, in the end, it is really up to you to let us know.