Massage Pressure – does it matter?

Nothing can be worse for a client than the therapist not using enough pressure or too much. The therapist can have the best techniques in the world, and if their pressure is not applied correctly, then their techniques are worthless.

Every technique requires some level of pressure and there are also different levels of pressure for those too.

A professional massage therapist should begin with lighter strokes and moderate pressure before moving into a heavy pressure. Starting light allows a massage therapist to see how the client is tolerating the pressure. Then as they get used to the areas being massaged and the initial pressure, then a therapist can increase pressure.

When the client feels the therapist’s hands on their skin, their body registers that there are sensations of touch and pressure on that area of their body. With each pass over the area that the therapist makes, they increase the amount of pressure they use. This way the client’s body recognizes that the therapist is gradually warming up the muscle tissue to work deeper. If the therapist had begun with deep pressure, the client may have reacted by jerking their arm closer toward the body in a defensive motion. Working with pressure going from light to deep also builds trust with the client.

Below are some definitions of the different types of pressure.

Light pressure – Using light pressure requires very little strength on the part of the therapist. This type of pressure is applied using just the weight of the hand, or a pressure slightly above that. This introductory level of pressure informs the client’s body that you are preparing to go deeper.

Intermediate pressure – After you have made a pass or two using light pressure, the body is prepared to receive intermediate pressure. Most massage techniques are performed using this level of pressure. The hands firmly compress the skin so that the muscles get adequately squeezed and manipulated. The pressure is strong enough to push blood and lymph throughout the body.

Deep pressure – This level of pressure require the most endurance from the therapist. This should be reserved for those who could benefit from deep work such as athletes or individuals who frequently get massage. This should certainly not be used for someone who’s never had a massage before. The therapist usually leans into the person with their body using their hands, wrists and sometimes elbows while employing hand position and proper body mechanics to avoid strain.

At Widdoss Therapeutic Massage we ask the client about the pressure, but we also watch for visual cues and do not only rely on verbal communication. Call us today at 205-394-5900 and we can discuss your therapeutic massage needs and available appointments.