Now that this song is stuck in your head and will be until the end of time, let’s talk about PRESSURE.

As a Massage Therapist, one of my major concerns is pressure. How much and when and where can make the difference between a good massage and a bad one. And it all boils down to the conversation that I have with my clients.

But first…what is pressure? I like this definition of pressure as it relates to the massage industry. “A sensation aroused by moderate compression of a body part or surface.”

Within a massage itself, the pressure can vary. Each body is unique and handles pressure differently. And the goals of each massage are different and based on the needs of the individual. So when we learned about pressure in school, we used a scale of 1-10 to describe the different ways a person might feel pressure on their body, and I still use this method when explaining massage pressure to new massage clients.

Pressure Scale

1-3 This is your lightest range of pressure. Imagine a church back tickle or petting a dog or cat. It works the most superficial layers of the body: the skin, lymphatic system, muscle tissue, and cardiovascular system. You will most often feel this during the beginning of a massage while the therapist applies lotions or oils to the skin.
4-6 This is your moderate or medium pressure. Imaging kneading dough. It begins to work the deeper layers of the body like: the fascia, muscle tissue, tendons and ligaments.
7-8 This is the deep tissue zone of pressure. Many individuals describe the sensation as, “hurt so good” or “it’s painful, but the good kind of pain.” This amount of pressure eases tension, tightness, and knots from the muscle tissue.
9-10 Pressure in this range causes pain and potential injury. If you want to cry, call out “Uncle!,” or leap off the table, it’s too much!

It is very important to communicate the desired pressure of your session with your therapist before you get on the table. And it is crucial to communicate to your therapist during the session. If they ask, “How is that pressure?” Be honest with them. Like Goldilocks, you want the amount of pressure your massage therapist is using to be “just right.”