Discomfort vs Pain in Therapeutic Massage

MELT Massage is a massage and bodywork office in North Raleigh, NC.

Therapeutic massage can often be quite uncomfortable, if not just plain painful. Deep tissue massage and trigger point therapy are two of the most used modalities in our office and they are also two modalities that usually require the client to breathe through a little discomfort. One uses long, deep strokes and deep transverse friction which helps to realign muscle fibers. The other uses ischemic compression to exhaust muscle fibers in chronic holding patterns which bring in more circulation. Both massage modalities reduce pain and leave the muscle in a more relaxed state than before the treatment.

Massage Raleigh NC
MELT Massage Raleigh NC

How do you know if your therapist who is causing all this discomfort actually knows what the heck he or she is doing?


The short answer: results are the telltale sign that your therapist is worth your time and money. Getting off the table feeling better than when you got on it usually means you have a good massage therapist.

Massage results are important

Unfortunately, you have to go through the session to see most of the results of the treatment. And sometimes the results don’t become obvious until you’re at your next workout session or going to sleep that night. As a general note, you should be seeing small results throughout the entire session. This may include feeling a decrease in pain and discomfort, or feeling more relaxed. These subtle results are the telltale signs that your therapist knows what he or she is doing. Check out common benefits of massage.

The Difference in Pain vs Discomfort

Before you go in for a therapeutic session, its helpful to understand the difference between discomfort and pain. Discomfort affords you time to think about how uncomfortable you are in the moment. Perhaps you start thinking “man, this stinks. I never knew that, THAT part of my body even hurt. Maybe I should tell the therapist to stop or lighten up… oh now it feel like its starting to let up.” And on and on. Discomfort allows for the mental space to ponder what you should do. Pain on the other hand doesn’t. The pain stimulus occurs and the brain will immediately trigger a response to withdraw from the origin of the pain stimulus. As a result, there won’t be any time or space for pondering the pain. The internal “Red Alert” sirens will be way too loud for any of that to happen.

Our strategy for dealing is pain

Our goal is to be the go-to office in North Raleigh for therapeutic massage. In our therapeutic sessions, we float between comfort and discomfort as we uncover opportunities for release and freedom in the body’s tissues. Most of the time if the pressure isn’t in the “feeling good” zone, the pressure maybe on the uncomfortable side or even on the verge of the pain and automatic withdrawal side. Its totally normal to be in these uncomfortable zones on and off throughout your treatment session. The key is to communicate to your therapist and let them know when the discomfort has crossed over the pain threshold. Our office uses a 1 to 10 scale where 1 equals no discomfort at all and 10 equals “Red Alert Get Your Hands Off of Me” pain. Because you want to stay within a therapeutic level of discomfort, you should never go above a 7 on your personal pain scale. Ever.

Take Aways:

• Therapeutic massage can be uncomfortable
• Results are the telltale sign of a good therapist
• Discomfort allows space to think about getting away from the stimulus, where pain immediately triggers a withdrawal response.
• Communicate with your therapist about your experience of discomfort
• On a scale of 1 to 10, never go above a 7
• Don’t forget to breathe

MELT Massage Raleigh NC

By | 2019-08-06T16:25:17+00:00 August 6th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Discomfort vs Pain in Therapeutic Massage