Q: I believe in the “No Pain, No Gain” idea and usually don’t speak up when a therapist is hurting me. I find bodywork to be more effective when it’s deep and painful. Is this true?
A: ABSOLUTELY NOT!! Pain is how your body signals you to back away from a potentially damaging situation. Although it’s not unusual to feel discomfort and occasional pain as a particularly tender spot is worked on, you should NEVER allow intensely painful work to continue. If you do, the resulting damage can lead to increased pain sensitivity, inflammation and aggravate or activate trigger points. The surrounding tissue will reflexively tighten up in an attempt to protect a perceived area of weakness or injury. Depending on the level of damage, it can take weeks for the body to recover.
As a general rule, if you can breathe through the discomfort and use your breath to relax around the pain it should subside relatively quickly as the muscle adapts. If, however, you can’t help but hold your breath and are instinctively pushing the therapist away by tensing up then the muscle isn’t ready for the amount of pressure being used. It may be ready after further work or in a subsequent session but in that moment the pressure is too much. Respect you body’s signals and you’ll not only reach your goals safely but more quickly and comfortably!!