Karen Small...Creating space for healing and change



Deep Tissue Massage

What is it and does it hurt?

Many people think this type of massage sounds like a painful, stressful experience. This is partly because the experience depends upon the therapist's techniques, approach and philosophy and partly on the client's expectations. The main difference in this work from a standard relaxation massage is that the therapist is accessing deeper layers of fascia and muscle, with the intent of loosening adhesed layers and releasing tension held in the tissues.

My approach is always that massage shouldn't hurt. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being painful, I prefer not to go beyond a 7. I also prefer to work in this range with client feedback so that I know how they are receiving the work. It's meant to be a "good hurt", not painful. My philosophy is to work slowly, waiting for the tissue to soften and allow me in. This may mean we don't get to everything in one session, but the work will be more effective, because I work with you, not against you (which can cause more muscle spasms than you came in with). And believe it or not, this work can be deeply relaxing.

Deep Tissue techniques in my practice include myofascial release massage, trigger point work, and Swedish techniques used at a greater depth. These techniques are used to aid in resolving tight, painful areas, decreased range of motion, overuse injuries, and positional stress effects in tissues. These may show up as low back pain, painful shoulders, neck pain, discomfort when turning head, pain with certain motions of arms or legs, and pain and numbness in arms and hands.

Why am I feeling discomfort after the work?

Sometimes after this type of work, you will be sore for a day or so where we worked intensely. This will feel similar to how you feel after a heavy workout. The best way to avoid this is to communicate with me during the massage to make sure we aren't working too deeply. You also want to be sure to drink lots of water for the next day or so. Icing the area when you get home for about 10 minutes (until the area feels numb) and perhaps repeating this a few times over the next day can be the best prevention for soreness. Heat may work better for some people, so feel free to experiment, including alternating heat and ice.

Another pain phenomenon is when you come for a massage not feeling pain anywhere, but once I begin working, you suddenly become aware of painful areas where I'm working. This often occurs with overuse stress and positional stress of the tissues. Examples include painting a room, moving heavy items, seasonal gardening, or habitual overuse such as computer work, work-related muscle overuse, hobby work, poor ergonomics on the job, and postural misalignments. After initial warnings of discomfort, your brain stops signaling how uncomfortable your tissues are, until there is a new stressor to the area or an "awakening" of the tissues. When I open up the tissues with bodywork, blood and oxygen flood the tight tissues, the nerves are stimulated by the work, and the tissues start "talking" to you again about their discomfort. This is the beginnings of the healing.

Feel Better...Peform Better...Sleep Better...Think Better...Be Better

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Wellness is so much more than the absence of illness...
It is a path towards a healthy balance in mind, body and spirit.
Regularly receiving bodywork is a fundamental step along that path.

Karen Small
Licensed Massage Therapist
Westerly, RI

Copyright © 2008 by Karen Small.
All rights reserved.