Saturday, February 8, 2014

Deep Tissue Massage That Feels Good

A couple days ago, I picked up my client's chart to ready myself before she arrived, because she was new to me. I noticed that she had come in the day before and cut off the appointment early. That's a big red flag, so I asked my manager if there was a story. The client cut off the appointment because the first therapist was not giving her the type of massage she wanted.

I have worked with that therapist and received several massages from him over 3 and a half years. I respect his work and am very well acquainted with his style, so I planned to do the opposite style. The client asked for a Deep Tissue massage for headaches and shoulder tension. My typical MO for those issues is to start with Myofascial release with some cervical stretching, focusing on slow, deep, dry drags. Thankfully, the client in question was running late, so I got a chance to confer with my colleague prior to meeting her. He told me that he had done slow, deep, drags on the back and shoulders and that instead, she wanted something that "Felt more like a massage."

Once I had the chance to interview the client and get to work, I adopted a smooth, flowing, heavy handed Swedish style technique with plenty of thumbs. I tried not to dwell in any one place with sustained pressure, but kept moving with a moderate pressure over larger areas. The ironic thing is that I was doing an impression of the first therapist's usual technique, which the client loved, and he had done MY usual thing, which she hated.
The interesting part of this is the balance between "Deep Tissue" and what should "Feel like a massage." A musical analogy would be the bands Motorhead vs. Led Zeppelin. Both would be considered hard, powerful, and musically complex. They are on the heavier end of the rock spectrum. Motorhead is musical, but it doesn't feel good, because it's dark, brooding, and unrelenting. Led Zeppelin, on the other hand, is for dancing, partying and releasing stress. If you are looking for heavy music (Deep Tissue) they are certainly both qualified to fill the need. My client wanted something she could dance to. She wanted something she could crank up in the car and sing along to that would leave her feeling good, not something that would leave her with a headache.

I bet Lemmy never thought he'd be in a massage therapy blog!
It is important to remember that what the client asks for is just as important as what I think she needs. I got lucky this time, thanks to good communication with my co-worker, my management, and the client herself. She left happy and I was reminded to be flexible with my technique. I guess the most important thing is that she left the second day with relief from her tension and stress.


  1. I've never tried a deep tissue massage before. I know that it can hurt a lot. Normal massages usually make me cringe, though. I guess I just don't like being touched.

    1. Maybe you should try something a little different like Thai massage or a stretching modality. Styles like these can bring deep results without the same invasive, hands on touchy feeling. Or reflexology on the feet can affect the whole body, providing immense results, without the typical painful procedure you find from many "Deep Tissue" massages.