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Massage Pressure: How Much Can You Handle?
A good massage is all about communication, and your therapist will want to know how much pressure to apply. Use our guide to make the most of your upcoming session.
A massage can already be a vulnerable experience, so the question of how much pressure the therapist should apply can be tough to answer, especially given that everyone experiences pressure differently. Fortunately, there are basically three possible responses—light, medium, or firm—and considering the following factors may help you decide:
Pain Tolerance: If you find yourself extremely sensitive to touch, request light pressure. Likewise, people who can tolerate rigorous—possibly even uncomfortable—pressure should choose firm to get the most out of the muscle manipulation. Always trust your body; if firm pressure feels too intense, ask the therapist to ease up.
Why Are You Here?: If your top priority is relaxation, then light or medium pressure is for you. If you want to work out knots, relieve concentrated tension, or pop the balloon animal you swallowed, then firm pressure may be required. If you're looking for a mix of outcomes, explain them in detail, pointing out specific areas and desired results. For instance, you might say, "I want to loosen my back muscles but break up knots in my shoulders," each of which requires a different amount of pressure.
Don't Sweat It: Massage therapy is designed to improve the body's overall function, whether by promoting relaxation or relieving aches and pains. So even if you choose a pressure level at the start of a massage, you're not locked into it—you can request lighter or firmer pressure at any point during treatment. Good massage therapists appreciate and respond to feedback, which helps them develop personalized sessions that feel good and fulfill your expectations.
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