Massages are far from the same

Last week I decided to try a deep tissue massage with a therapist I found on Groupon. 

As someone who’s had lots of massage I know what I like and what I don’t like. I obviously have different expectations for each type of treatment I’m getting. If you’re new to massage, go into each treatment knowing that no massage ever feels the same.   How your body reacts will be different and each therapist has their own style and skill.

When I see my sports therapist I know it’s usually going to hurt but it’ll do me good afterwards. I usually only see her for a specific issue/ injury concern. 

My sports massage therapist who I use for maintenance massages has a very firm hand and is good for getting into areas that stretching never quite reaches. I always feel nice and loose afterwards; refreshed!

spa sign

I like a Thai massage as I enjoy the firmness and the stretching element. As soon as I'm in Asia, I try to fit in as many as I can, so I've experienced many different Thai, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian ayurvedic massages.

Every now and again I visit a spa therapist  for a more relaxing Swedish massage, frankly I don’t get much out of these anymore as I feel like someone is just giving me a gentle rub down. I do however enjoy a deep tissue Swedish massage - firm touch that gets into the deeper layers of muscle.  Deep tissue techniques are used in sports massage, however as a spa treatment I expect a more holistic approach.

The massage I had earlier this week fell a bit flat. It felt heavy handed and a bit bony - elbows being jabbed left, right and centre. I like a firm feel but this felt awkward, my muscles had not been warmed enough. I felt like the therapist just rushed straight into it. 

The thing with deep tissue is you need to start light with superficial strokes, then move into deeper strokes as part of a sequence; it feels too forced going deep in the offset. I experienced this when I was studying sports massage - we practised on each other and generally it felt good, however there were two students who I found too heavy handed.  This experience felt similar in nature. It’s hard to feel relaxed when your muscles just want to tense up to protect you.

It also concerned me a little that when she was massaging my arms, she’d stroke towards my hands. My forearms arms were particularly tight so although some of the squeezing was beneficial, I didn’t enjoy the feeling of bloated hands. Deep strokes in particular should be in the direction of the heart. 

I felt she missed the opportunity of relaxing muscles around my neck and shoulders as she more or less just glided over them briefly despite asking me where I had the most tension.  She was more interested in giving me a head massage, which I had agreed to, but again, I've experienced more relaxing treatments.  I was hoping to receive a nice firm massage that would relax tense muscles and I really wanted to enjoy it, but it just wasn't happening.

The therapist spent the second half of the massage doing reflexology. This was my first reflexology experience so I’ve nothing to compare it with. Reflexology is the use of pressure on the soles of the feet, it aims to bring balance and harmony to the body as different areas of the feet represent different parts of the body.  It felt like someone was gently playing with my toes and I felt relaxed. 

Apart from feeling relaxed in the mind, I don't feel my muscles gained what they were in need of - a bit of a wringing.  In all it wasn’t one of the better massage experiences I’ve had. I really didn't enjoy the heavy handed approach, however if I was after a treatment to help me mentally switch off, then this might be a good place to go.  I think this therapist is probably very good as a light touch therapist but she’s not for me.