Have you ever gone into a massage treatment expecting the treatment to unfold a particular way? This is especially common if you come in with a particular area of pain or discomfort. Generally you’d expect us to work on it directly right? Well, that’s not always the best approach for treatment…Here’s why:
- >Firstly it’s quite common for an area of pain to be in discomfort as a result of overuse. When we manipulate the tissues, in areas of chronic tension and inflammation, there is a greater likelihood of producing even greater discomfort (for the duration of the treatment). Sometimes a little pain within the treatment time is necessary to provide relief beyond the treatment, yet the majority of the time it shouldn’t be necessary, and there are other avenues of treatment that can be just as effective (if not moreso) and produce less pain in a session. Using these other modes will allow the more stressed tissues to have a break from the onslaught they are constantly receiving.
- Quite often, the area of pain is not actually where the dysfunction is located. This means that massaging the area is not only quite a bit more painful but it also isn’t often even treating the cause of the issue. It’s kind of like taking a Tylenol or Panadol for a tension headache – it might well provide some relief in the immediate time-period, yet you’ll likely get another headache in the coming days/weeks if you don’t actually do something about the tension that’s causing it. It’s quite likely that the pain or discomfort is coming from musculature that is having to overcompensate for weaker, damaged or inappropriately firing muscles.
This means that if you’re seeking out the right therapist, and you’re asking them to help you, each treatment might take on an entirely different approach than you were anticipating. If this happens it likely means that your therapist is trying to find the source of the issue and facilitate its release. This is also the reason we often provide some “homework” activities to do – not only to continue the release of any tight tissues, but also to strengthen and retrain the musculature that might be working too hard, or not enough!
Keep in mind that this also depends on how open you are to such a treatment. If you trust your therapist to provide what you NEED then you have a mindset that is more open to the idea of a treatment taking an entirely different shape, and it’s more likely to happen when you’re open to receiving in this way. If you come in with more WANTS, then it’s always best for a therapist to give you what you want and get the therapy in over time.
The best measure of who to go back to is very simple: do you feel great after a treatment or do you feel beaten up? From there I think the decision is pretty easy.
If you do have low-back pain, you’ll find the following two articles useful as well: “Walking: How You Should Do It Properly, Simple Right?” and “The Way You Set Up Your Desk Matters“.