At some point early in your massage, your massage therapists may ask you: “How’s the pressure?’ or, “Is that pressure okay for you?” Why do we do that?
Massage therapy is, by definition, the manipulation of the soft tissue of the body. This involves a certain amount of force. When your massage therapist asks about pressure, she or he is checking in to see if you are comfortable with this amount of force. We can feel lots of things in your tissues, but we don’t feel when we have crossed the threshold from therapeutic into painful. For that, we rely on your feedback.
Most of the time, the person in control of how much force gets applied to your tissues is you. Your massage therapist wants you to speak up when something feels like it is too much (or too little.) If it is safe and reasonably possible, your massage therapist will adapt to your preferences.
There are exceptions, however. Your massage therapist wants to have a long and healthy career, so she or he may not do some techniques that cause pain and strain in their own body. Your massage therapist also wants to make sure the session is safe for you, so she or he may adapt with respect to any medical challenges you may be facing. For example, for anyone in active cancer treatment, deep pressure will not be a part of the massage.
Part of our responsibility as massage therapists is to listen to your requests and communicate our response clearly. Sometimes our response to a request will be “No,” which should always be followed by our clear explanation.
Your responsibility as a client is to listen and ask for clarification. When your massage therapist asks “How’s the pressure?” she or he is open to continuing the conversation about how to create the most effective session for you. We are looking for an honest answer. Don’t like to talk at all during your massage? Tell your massage therapist in the intake that you will let her or him know if something needs to change during the session.