Ow! That hurts, [email protected]*%it!

A lot of people come to me with the assumption that the work I do hurts. They have most often had experiences with other LMTs who use a tremendous amount of force and have therefore braced themselves for the session with me.

I won’t lie. The truth is, resolving injury is not usually a totally comfortable experience, though it is by no means always painful. A good way to think about it is that we’re not creating pain, we’re releasing pain, which, by definition, cannot be painless.

HOWEVER (and, yes, this is a big however), the impact on the body can be greatly reduced by a number of things. First of all, if the therapist is really physically working to get the depth of “deep tissue”, there is something wrong. A well trained therapist knows how to reach down into the deeper layers of the body without undue force. And that same therapist knows when the top layers of tissue are, or are not, adequately prepared for the reach.

Secondly, you have a few responsibilities as a client. One: adequate hydration (minimum 2 liters of water per day!), especially on the day of your session; two: communicate with your therapist. If you’re leery of the work, or if you love the work and are just having a hard time that day and can’t handle the intensity, DO say something. And three: be brave and relax into the work. Remember that a lot of the time when we are resisting change in our bodies, it is because there is emotion caught up in the physical injury.

Lastly, the relief that comes from this type of work is most often profoundly relaxing to the body. Roughly 50% of my clients fall asleep on the table at some point. The experience of feeling restriction and pain leave the body is profound and most people are willing to abide the temporary discomfort for the long-term benefit. But if that isn’t you, don’t worry! There are many incredible treatments from acupuncture to chiropractic to movement therapy that can help you find the answers to your pain. Don’t give up looking.

And lastly lastly (for real this time), if you need a good laugh, you really should check this out.

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Isabel Spradlin
Isabel Spradlin
Isabel Spradlin is an LMT and abdominal adhesion specialist in Portland, OR. She specializes in educating people about manual treatment (massage) for abdominal pain and dysfunction, especially when it is adhesion related. Please see the "Programs" page to see her offerings.

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