Sports massage HAS to hurt to be effective
Sports massage is very similar to deep tissue massage in that both require the therapist to use firm pressure. This pressure CAN be uncomfortable when the muscle is tight or overworked, there is scar tissue present or the client is suffering with DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness aka the pain in your muscles the day after intense exercise!). If the discomfort for the client is too much, they may find it difficult to keep the affected muscles relaxed which would lead to an intensified level of pain and a less effective treatment. The common rule is that the client should mostly feel that the massage pressure is tolerable. If the pressure is too soft, the treatment may be less effective. Some people either with a high pain threshold or with healthy muscle tissue may not feel any pain or discomfort at all during treatment. This doesn’t mean that their treatment is less effective than others.
Sports massage releases ‘toxins’
This is a popular myth. Lots of therapists tell their clients that they are ‘releasing toxins’ from the muscles, without really knowing what this means or even what ‘toxins’ are. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine have conducted multiple studies on the effects of massage on the body and none of these show any relation to a release of toxins.
You must drink LOADS of water post-massage
Linked to the last myth, therapists who tell you that they have ‘released toxins’ from your muscles, will usually follow this with advise of drinking ‘plenty of water’ to ‘flush out the toxins’. Despite common misconception, massage does not increase your body’s need for water at all. That being said, you should always drink to thirst and sip water throughout the day to ensure that you stay hydrated and maintain healthy organs.
You shouldn’t question your therapist – they’re the expert after all…
Most massage therapists genuinely want your treatment to be as effective as possible. It is vital that you communicate with your therapist to ensure that the treatment is right for you. This includes telling your therapist if the pressure is not right, they are not quite hitting the spot, you’d like it if they used a bit more oil, you’d like another pillow/towel or anything else that would make the treatment better for you. A good therapist will leave their ego at the door and appreciate that their client feels confident and comfortable enough to ask for what they want out of their treatment.