There is a common preconception that sports/deep tissue massage needs to be painful for it to be of any benefit. However, with research, it has been found that this isn’t necessarily the case. As the industry has evolved, there is now a huge amount more understanding about how the body works with fascia and muscles. Research now suggests that it no longer benefits to adhere to the older saying of “no pain no gain”.

The conventional wisdom that massages must inflict discomfort to yield benefits is being replaced by a more comprehensive understanding of how the body’s intricate network of fascia and muscles operates. Massage therapists aim to release and relax any tense muscles that may have built up with stress, overuse, from an injury etc. To do this, when performing a massage, the patient needs to fully relax to allow these muscles to relax. If they can’t relax into treatment and are tense and bracing (from feeling pain from the massage itself), then the muscles being worked on will find it difficult to fully let go- and therefore will not bring you any benefit.

During the massage, the patient or therapist may flag up that they feel a trigger point (an area in the muscle that is hyperirritable due to a build-up of toxins or continual muscle stress). Rather than working a trigger point forcefully causing pain, we can do this gently. By treating these more gently, the body is more relaxed meaning that we can access the deeper tissue and muscles in the body- solving the pain condition more. In essence, the recognition that trigger points can indeed induce pain does not mandate that sports massage or trigger point therapy be inherently painful experiences. This evolution in approach underscores the pivotal role relaxation plays in optimising outcomes.

In summary, yes of course these trigger points may cause you pain. But, sports massage does not have to be a painful experience to give you the best outcome. The notion that effective therapy necessitates pain has given way to a more sophisticated understanding of the body’s response to gentle, holistic treatments, ushering in a new era of therapeutic practices aimed at healing and rejuvenation.