Stiffness, Tightness, and Knots- Oh MY!


As a massage therapist, I hear many people tell me about how tight they are, or stiff, or knotted. They want me to fix the problem manually, that is, with force and pressure. Massage therapists often talk about “breaking up” knots. Some MT’s and their clients say that painful and intense pressure is the most effective way to achieve this.

There is a place for stronger pressure in massage. But I believe that if a client is in too much pain from the therapists pressure, then they will tense up even more to bear it, counteracting the intended effect. Another pitfall very few MT’s discuss is the tendency of clients to tense during a massage in order to feel more pain so that the massage seems more effective. This comes from a belief that massage should be painful to be effective. Essentially, this behavior blocks the effectiveness of the massage, creates unnecessary residual soreness,  and makes the massage therapists job harder.

Learning to relax and receive instead of resisting a massage can lead to a less painful and more effective experience. Learning about your (possibly incorrect) beliefs about how massage should feel opens up the possibility of a different, more enjoyable, and potentially more useful approach.

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