Integrative Health Blog

Its not how deep you can go in a massage, its how you get there

Posted by admin on Tue, Sep 11, 2012

Krista Merwede LMT

Massage may

      Many of us have experienced a massage that did not provide the pressure that we wanted.  If the therapist works too light, the massage can be unsatisfying and relatively ineffectual.  If the therapist works too deep, the massage can cause discomfort or even bruising after the session is complete.  One of the most important characteristics of a great massage therapist is finesse: the ability to release the musculature with a perfect amount of pressure.

How Massage Pressure Works
     A common request that I hear when doing initial intakes with my patients is "You can go as deep as you like.  I can take it." or something very similar.  This week I would like to take the opportunity to give you a detailed picture of how the muscles unwind during a massage and how light and deep pressure come into play.  It is not about how deep I can massage you, but how much can we unwind your body to accept the optimum deepest pressure for that particular area.
     I really love the image of a puzzle box, one that has several tricks and twists to eventually unlocking the center.  I will not put you on the table and immediately rail my elbow into your back.  At first, I will take just a few moments to warm up the skin, fascia and muscles with a light touch, initially focusing on warming and melting the tissues.   Using anatomical knowledge and listening with my fingers I will discover the fibers that are tightest as the massage becomes deeper.  I am searching for how everything is connected. When we isolate the most challenged spots we begin an even deeper focused massage around the most painful areas, with the intention of melting everything as much as possible in preperation for the grand finale.

Unlocking the Body
     The final piece of the puzzlebox is unlocking the body so we can go as deep as required in the areas of most tension and trigger points.  At this point not only the affected muscles have relaxed, but also those that were tugging it out of place and causing additional tension.  We work with this specific goal of unwinding so that the massage session is at its most effectual.  As you continue to receive you will continue to unwind, with deeper and longer lasting effects.
     Consider yourself welcome to request any type of pressure you would like when you come in for a treatment so we can sculpt the session for what you need that day.  We will communicate throughout our time together and I can always go lighter or deeper with the pressure.  This being said, you as patient will experience a much more pleasing and intense sense of pressure as we finesse your puzzlebox, and I as therapist am honoring your body as an individual structure that has its own unique set of challenges that require a customized approach. 


Krista Merwede, L.M.T. practices therapeutic massage at National Integrated Health Associates, an integrative medicine and dental center serving the Washington DC metropolitan area. Krista Merwede specializes in Therapeutic Massage, Reiki, Reflexology, and Neuromuscular Therapy, techniques designed to address the source of pain and relieve stress.

Topics: neck pain, stress, massage