The MOVE by BJC Blog

How Much Is Too Much? Getting the Massage Pressure You Need

How Much Is Too Much? Getting the Massage Pressure You Need

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

People often wonder what to say and how to describe what they want to their massage therapist in terms of pressure. Gauging pressure is usually subjective from person to person and therapist to therapist. Often there are guidelines for figuring out what our client’s desired pressure will be. One may hear the descriptive terms of light, medium, medium-firm, firm, deep. This is not an exact science, so communication is the sure way to get your desired pressure from your massage therapist. Sometimes, different parts of the body will also desire different kinds of pressure, so be sure to talk with your therapist as the massage progresses during the session – this is the best way to tailor your massage to your needs.

Many times, the bigger muscle groups need a firmer pressure than the smaller ones do. Let’s take the neck and shoulder area for example. These are areas where people hold a lot of stress, physical, mental and emotional stress. The biggest muscle fiber in these areas is called the trapezius, sometimes referred to as the “traps.” Many people request more pressure here than any other part of the body. There are many overlapping muscles going in different directions underneath the traps and when they are in need of attention the therapist has to press through the trap fibers to get into the desired area. Therefore, the pressure desired may be considered firmer or deeper to the client.

There are other muscles in the body that will be more sensitive to a firmer touch, such as the area near the lower floating ribs in the back. Another area that often requires a light touch is in the front of the neck, which is the scalene muscle group. This muscle group is a very common problem area due to people’s constant forward posture that gives a rounded shoulder and chest appearance. When the scalenes become “short” or tight, this adds to the posture of the head tilting forward and down. So, these muscles are in need of working, as long as there are no contraindications (no reasons not to work on them). The pressure on these muscles should be lighter and aimed away from the throat area and the pressure will usually be felt quicker than other muscle groups.

Now let’s talk massage tools. These are the therapist’s thumbs, fingers, hands, forearms and elbows. Each of these tools has its place and reason to be used during the massage. Although these tools are generally used at the discretion of the therapist, many clients are not aware how much control they have in their session. If one tool is not the preferred pressure for that day, the client should always speak up and let the therapist know. The therapist will often use thumbs or elbows to achieve a firmer pressure, but this may be too specific in certain areas of the body for some clients and therefore, using the whole hand or the forearm would be a softer tool, yet the firmer pressure can still be achieved.

Remember that communication is the best tool for helping you achieve the right massage session for you. Call 314-286-0525 or come by our new location at 4220 Duncan and schedule your massage session.

- Deborah Jones