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How Much Pressure is Best for Massage?

Let’s talk about the trap of no pain no gain.


This is Cynthia and I’m a physically strong massage therapist who can do deep tissue massage. But I am always aware if I’m causing you to go through a Fight, Flight, or Freeze reaction and thereby causing your sympathetic nervous system to react.


What is the sympathetic nervous system? From livescience.com – The sympathetic nervous system directs the body’s rapid involuntary response to dangerous or stressful situations. A flash flood of hormones boosts the body’s alertness and heart rate, sending extra blood to the muscles.


As you’ve just read, the reaction is involuntary, and is a reaction to dangerous or stressful situations. I can usually tell this during a massage as your breathing will change, you will wince from me applying too much pressure, you will feel heightened or stressed or anxious after the massage, or you will find that for days or even weeks after the massage you have bruising or sore muscles.


What I want instead is to use enough pressure to release tight, stressed muscles while keeping you in a parasympathetic response. From Science Daily – The parasympathetic nervous system is one of three divisions of the autonomic nervous system. Sometimes called the rest and digest system, the parasympathetic system conserves energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract.


When I talk about the parasympathetic nervous system I usually refer to it as rest and relaxation. My overall goal (especially in serious motor vehicle accident cases) is to help you to relax and rest your nervous system. Your body is better able to heal if it is relaxed.


I am able to do deep tissue massage and trigger point release while still being able to help your parasympathetic nervous system help to rest and relax you.


We want to make sure that we are working together with your natural nervous system reactions, so sometimes I will be a bit harder than you’re used to, and sometimes I will be a bit softer in pressure. But my goal is to get you recovered and back to a pain free life as soon as possible.


– Cynthia Ganga, RMT

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