The Top Three Massage Therapy Myths Debunked

By Kristie Budka, MS, LMT

Massage has to be deep to be effective

Oftentimes, clients express a belief that in order for the massage to get the results they desire, the pressure must be deep. Otherwise, it is just a relaxation massage. Deep pressure is a very subjective idea. This is where good communication between the therapist and client is crucial. Each person has a different threshold for what is deep pressure. Also, each therapist is going to have varying degrees of pressure they can provide.

Most importantly to note is that, if the pressure is so deep that the client’s body elicits a sympathetic response from the work, it is counterproductive. A sympathetic response is when our nervous system goes into a fight, flight, or freeze response. It is in this state that healing does not occur. Therapeutic massage can mean many different things to each client. Sometimes specific focused work is needed with deeper pressure or stretching or an additional tool, while other times a more general massage allowing the client to relax can also be extremely powerful and healing.

No massage during the first trimester of pregnancy

This myth was dispelled many years ago by The American Pregnancy Association, confirming that a women may receive a massage at any point in their pregnancy, whether the first, second, or third trimester. If a pregnant woman is considered high risk, then caution needs to be applied. This would be the case for pregnant women at any point within their pregnancy. If she is considered high risk then she would need a further discussion with her doctor. Again, communication between the therapist and client is critical. A thorough intake would be conducted to determine that there are no risk factors which would fall under the category of high risk.

Children and teens do not need a massage

Massage therapy can help anyone at any age. There seems to be a common misconception that children and teens do no need massage, nor can their bodies tolerate it. There is much research conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, Florida, highlighting the efficacy of massage therapy for teens and children. Typically, sessions do not need to be as long in duration and their muscular tissue might not be as mature as adult tissues; however, they can receive massage with the same benefits as adults receive. It is especially helpful for athletes and teens suffering from anxiety and/or depression. It is well known that massage helps increase blood flow to the soft tissue, thus helping them in their recovering or pre-game readiness and helping to reduce the incidence of injury. One of the main benefits of massage is putting the body in a relaxed state, turning on the parasympathetic nervous system so that the body and mind can rest/digest which is helpful to improving our mental state.

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