August 27, 2015

No Pain, No Pain: 5 Ways To Make Receiving Massage Amazing.


“I need more pressure. It hurts while it’s happening, but I’ll feel better later.”

More pressure? More pain? Is that what we really need to relax? We get stressed out precisely because of the “no pain, no gain” attitude. Then tired and sore, we say, “I need a massage.”

Does it make sense to bring that same, high-intensity, full-court-press attitude on to the massage table, when what we’re trying to accomplish is relaxation?

I don’t think so. Massage can be so much better than that.

I’m a massage therapist. For the last 16 years, I’ve worked with stressed out, sore, tight people who want to relax and feel better. Many of my clients have the strange idea that asking me to hurt them is the best way to go. But I know that’s not the case. Instead, I make my clients comfortable on my soft massage table in my quiet treatment room and then I provide them with 90 minutes of pure sensual bliss.

Just yesterday I worked on a new client who said, “I like it deep,” and then we went so deeply into her pain-free relaxation that she stayed on the massage table in a dreamy drift of total peace for 15 minutes after the massage was over. When she finally got up, she said, “I usually like it so deep it hurts, but that was amazing.” Mission accomplished.

There is a wellspring of bliss, pleasure, peace and relaxation right in the midst of our stress and pain. The source of our stress and pain is the striving, pushing, hurrying, worrying mind that works way too hard all day and needs a break. To find the bliss within, we’ve got to learn how.

Learning how to receive a massage is just like learning any other skill. If we want play the violin, we hire a violin teacher, we practice and we learn. Massage is exactly the same. Clients who work with me for a few months often say: “I used to like it deep and painful, but now when I get one of those painful massages, it feels rough and invasive and it doesn’t work.”

Eventually, my clients’ ability to receive massage increases to the point that they not only do they let go of their stress, but they also let go of the deeply held attitudes and misconceptions that were the cause of their stress to begin with. Those clients relax so deeply and experience so much pleasure that it isn’t uncommon for them to call it a spiritual experience.

The muscle tension that builds up in us as a response to stress originates in the brain. As part of our stress response, the brain increases the tone signal it sends to our muscles. We get tight and sore. So, if we want to soften the muscles, we’ve got to talk to the brain and the brain likes pleasure, not pain.

Pain is not relaxing.

Okay, let’s set aside the fact that for some strange reason I really enjoy getting tattooed and look at the physiologic reality of pain. From the perspective of the body, pain equals stress. Even if there’s something thrilling about an adrenaline rush or an endorphin high, it’s still pain and your body still doesn’t like it. Adrenaline is a hormone that helps us cope with high stress situations and endorphins are pain modulators. Getting a painful massage when we’re stressed out is just adding stress to stress and that’s not the best way to spend a 100 bucks and an hour of our time. Especially since there’s a whole world of pleasure and relaxation that we’re missing out on.

Here are five things we can do to make receiving massage so much better:

1. No pain, no pain.

Next time you get a massage, tell your massage therapist that you don’t want it to be painful. Tell them you want it to feel really good instead.

2. No fluff.

If you’re laying on the massage table and the therapist is sliding their oily hands lightly all over you and is getting nothing done, the pendulum’s swung too far in the other direction. We pay a massage therapist the big bucks because we’re there to get the job done. The job is blissful relaxation, not pointless fluff.

3. Goldilocks knows best.

Say out loud what you like and what you don’t like. Tell your massage therapist that you want to work with them and communicate during the massage, so that the two of you can find a pressure and a pace that feels amazing. Usually, that means slowing down and breathing. If the pressure is too deep or too light, it won’t work. I has to be just right, with the deeper contacts coordinated with your relaxing exhale.

4. Moan, groan, and sigh.

Relaxation happens with the breath. We get ready to relax on our inhale and we relax on our exhale. During a great massage, we should be sighing and moaning and groaning with pleasure and stress-release. We should feel connected with our therapist in the same way that musicians or dancers or lovers connect. We should be working together.

5. Find a sensualist, not a technician.

Not every massage therapist knows how to give a truly relaxing massage—especially since so many clients ask for it to be “deeper.” What you really want when you ask for it to be deeper is for it to feel amazing, so that with every breath you melt into softer realms of peaceful pleasure. But when you ask for it to be so deep it hurts, you literally program your therapist to do things that don’t work! Not every massage therapist understands this, and their training might not have gone into it, so you’ve got to find a one who knows how to work with your breath and your pleasure. Give them this article and if they nod and smile as they’re reading it, you may have found a good one.

Receiving massage should be like, “Oh my God that’s amazing!” Both, the massage therapist and the client, should be on a mission to figure out how to make that happen.

Some days that means we need what I call The Velvet Bulldozer when the therapist crushes us with the prefect strokes that leave puddles of softness in their wake and some days, we’ll want the therapist to soothe us like a sleeping baby. Other days, it’ll be stretches and karate chops that really hit the spot.

The main point is that we’ve got to search for the pleasure. When we find it, we know it, and that’s when we breathe a sigh of relief.



10 Things your Massage Therapist Wants you to Know.


Author: Tobin Rangdrol

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: Pexels

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