'Deep Tissue' massage has become a buzz word in the wellness industry. And as often happens when something makes its way into the mainstream it morphs into a variety of versions, some of which can stray far from the original practice, purpose and effect. Perhaps the most misguided nuance in this industry is that deeper (heavier pressure) is better, especially if the 'no pain no gain' model is employed. One massage monopoly has rated each of their therapists on a scale of 1 to 4 in an attempt to indicate how deep (hard) they are able to apply 'therapeutic' pressure!
The purpose of good bodywork is to teach with informed touch and integrate the experience into real life. It is not to create a dependency on weekly neck massages, but rather to enhance a shift in each person's ability to cultivate positive self-awareness and experience what it is like to live at ease in a body.
Tension resides underneath our conscious awareness, whether we like it or not! Daily taming of tension is good medicine. For when life's chronic or unforeseen dramas appear, the undergrowth of tension is likely to blossom and take center stage in the form of pain, stiffness, reactivity, dis-ease, dis-disconnectedness, fatigue and a host of other negative and energy-draining states. Misguided 'deep tissue work' has the potential to ignite unresolved old trauma unrelated to the 'current complaint' and create murkiness around achieving a fuller more complete healing. Poorly given 'deep tissue work' can further embed deeply buried tension and reset the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) to a new plateau. This is not a therapeutic model by any standard.
GOOD bodywork should:
Feel safe and comfortable for the client
Respect tension (physical and mental)
Be a supportive and inspiring experience
Be a guiding, not dictating process
Maintain a global view of the body
Allow for easy natural breathing throughout!
Incorporate some form of active integration for daily life
It is my experience these principles from the Trager® tradition serve my clients to achieve positive feeling states that are long-lasting, habit forming and are actually their inherent right to inhabit. This work helps people find their unique process of taming their own tension, nourishing themselves from a daily self-care practice and developing a conscious dialogue with the feeling body as a life-long resource.
Are you getting everything you'd like to receive from your 'deep tissue' experience?