Should You Choose Deep Tissue Massage?

When you are about to make an appointment for a massage, should you have a deep tissue massage or some other style of massage?  Good question.

It really depends on 3 things:

  1. What type of Massage Office are you going to:  If you are going to a national chain, or a place hiring only new graduates with less than 2 years of experience, just remember that a beginner can HURT you with deep pressure.  Another point to remember, though, is that if you don’t ask for a “Deep” massage, your massage could be a weak “Fluff & Buff” wet noodle oil application.  So, find experienced therapists. At our office, even if you ask for a Deep Tissue Massage and that turns out NOT to be what you need, we will figure it out for you.  Also, not everyone who requests “Deep Tissue” actually needs or will benefit from “Deep” work.  Again, this is something an experienced massage therapist will be able to determine from how your muscles respond to deep pressure.  
  2. Have You Had a Massage Before?  If you have never had a massage, then we suggest not trying a Deep Tissue massage first.  Try a Relaxation Massage first.  If you are a referral from another athlete or someone who likes Deep Tissue, and you are not coming to our office, tell the massage therapist that you “think” you like deep pressure, but you don’t want to be hurt.  Each person responds differently, even those people who think they like the same style of massage.  If you are coming to our office, we will take care of you and will know from a few questions what your best massage style will be.
  3. What result from the Massage are you looking for?  If you want to leave relaxed and ready for rest, then choose a massage for relaxation.  From a Deep Tissue massage you are looking to have problem areas “fixed” or to get the “kinks out”.  You could feel like you just did a hard workout.  You could be sore for 24 hours.  Your painful areas may be more sore for a day and then much better.  If you are not wanting to feel this “soreness”, then a relaxation massage is better for you. If you are sore for more than 24 hours…your massage was TOO hard and it caused more damage than healing.

Another thought about whether you need Deep Tissue or some other style of bodywork:  When your mind is saying “Press as hard as you can!! You can’t hurt me!” yet when the massage therapist uses pressure and your body flinches, your toes curl, your hands make a fist and/or one of your legs starts kicking…may we suggest that you may need some more calming or lighter work.

If lighter work makes you ansi and uncomfortable, this is almost a sure sign that you are ready to make major changes…possibly letting go of some old pain patterns, possibly ready to let go of some old anger or sadness.  Often times, these types of patterns come out with very gentle massage styles like polarity, core synchronism, or even light Myo-Facial Release. It’s quick and pain less to get patterns out of your body this way…it just feels a bit “scary” right before it’s about to happen.

For those who have massage on a regular basis, this cycle of healing happens very quickly because their body gets used to this form of healing and lets go of pain patterns or emotional patterns much faster.

When pain patterns are released this way it is quick and sometimes permanent.  If the pain returns in a few days, then the pattern needs to be addressed at a different angle.

When emotional patterns are released this way, the person can feel more patience, calm & peace.  Getting angry at drivers and talks with family members can be much smoother and less reactive than they once were.

As always, if you have any questions, email us at

10 Tips to Save Your Massage Hands


Didn’t get enough sleep last night? And you haven’t eaten enough today? Big plans tonight that you are looking forward to??

These 3 scenarios are the perfect recipe to hurt your hands during your last massage of the day.  Even with one of them going on, here are some ways to keep your hands healthy:

1. Focus   on the massage, not tonight’s activities. It’s when we are most tired that we get unfocused with our posture and pushing from the core that we hurt our hands. Try not to daydream.

2. Stretch  your hand, wrist, neck, waist and legs right before you walk into the session. Sometimes during a massage, you can put one leg up on the table and stretch. Also, gently shake your hands out during the massage between areas.

3.  Straighten Up  your back, neck…don’t slouch.  You know this, we all do while massaging or living, but when it’s the last hour of the day, you have plans, your hungry and tired, it’s very easy to start pushing from your wrists, elbows & shoulders instead of your core and legs.

4.  Breathe  when you ask your clients to breathe, do the same.  When you are about to make a long stroke on the legs or back, take a nice deep breath. A nice deep breath also helps our focus to be more on the client and not what’s for dinner.  Keep breathing deeply after work.

5. Rotate Fingers to rest them one at a time.  This is a huge help!  When you are working on one area, lift your pointer finger up and allow your middle finger to do the work, then the ring finger, and for just a second or 2, your pinky.  Do this on Trigger Points too and Myo-facial work.  This has been a hand saver for me.

6. Bend Your Knees and push from your core.  “Yes Mom!” But seriously, keep it in mind.  It’s so easy to forget and to bend from your waist and then hurt your lower back.  Bend your knees and wear good gripping running shoes for support.  When you are tired and unfocused, bending your knees brings you right back to using your core to push with and your hands will thank you.

7. Keep your Wrists Straight when massaging and while doing other things around the house.  If your wrists are tired, even after gardening or weight lifting, try to keep them straight.  It’s the sideways stroke down the back or legs that can kill the hands.  A common stroke for me when I’m tired. So, remember to keep your wrists straight for the long strokes.

8.  Be Intensional After Work to rest and take care of your hands.  Gently massage them, use ice or heat or both.  If you are out to dinner, hold the ice water with both hands.  Don’t grip things too hard, like the steering wheel. Be mindful of your body and the rest it may need.

9.  Sleep with Your Hands Flat, not curled in.  This is a big one, especially when you are first starting, or for other people when they start getting hand/wrist pain, that their hands are flat when they sleep.  Get a pillow and hug it with flat hands.  Another smart sleeping position for side sleepers, is to support your knee and your top elbow so that your arm doesn’t pull down on your shoulder.

10.  Synchronize Your Fingers Tonight  one finger at a time.  Apply your toolbox of healing styles to your own hands.  Core Synchronism is my favorite way to heal my hands.  You could also use Myo-facial Release, Lymph Drainage, or simply light Effleurage with one hand while the other hand is above the heart.


A Big Thank You to our intern, Jordan Farrell


Good Luck! 🙂

Thank you so much for choosing Athletic Touch to do your senior internship. I really appreciated having you around! The clients who let you help during their massage all commented on how natural you were in Massage Therapy; they felt instant trust for you.

Thanks for your time, help, openness and errands!! You were very helpful and I am sorry to see you go.

Good luck at UNM! We’ll be keeping an eye out for your efforts with the UNM track team. Try many different classes before you decide on your path…suggests John. And my kids want you to come play and go skating with them. :))


Unwinding Really Works

I was reminded today, of how far I’ve come in my openness to treating the body, as my intern, Jordan, helped with a massage where we used “unwinding” of the neck. This slow, gentle technique is amazing…and took years to learn for my ADD type personality.

During massage school and for the first 500-1000 massages, I didn’t believe certain modalities (types of massage) really worked or mattered to learn. A few of the modalities I’m referring to are: Polarity, Reflexology, Cranio Sacral Therapy, etc. Anything I considered “non-sports massage” or “non-deep tissue” were dead to me. I would sleep during these classes. Phew on you, “non-massage” techniques!”

These modalities are often referred to as “Energy Work”.

I was a muscle person; I only wanted to learn about the muscles and how to help or manipulate muscle tissue with a firm grip. “Energy Work” was boring, useless and Woo-Woo. Massage Therapy has a stigma of having irresponsible, “Woo-woo” type people involved, and I was trying to fly very straight and narrow.

The clients I attracted and attract today are of similar thinking, and we understand each other when we discuss pain and problems in the body.

But, interesting “coincidence” started happening in my first year as a Massage Therapist: Deep Tissue work and Sports Massage were not helping all the issues coming into my office.

It turned out that muscles were sometimes responding to a lighter touch, a slight stretch or just being still. I was shocked with the results that came from presenting something “Calm” to tight muscles. Soon, I realized how naive I had been in school and arrogant to assume so much about the amazing machine our bodies are.

I went back to my school and sat in every “Energy Work” class I could fit into my schedule and received treatments from many therapists across Albuquerque, Santa Fe and San Diego (where my family lives)

Through the years, I have incorporated many “Energy Work” techniques into all of my Sports Massage or Deep Tissue work. The conversations with my clients changed to be more open to stillness, less pressure, slow movements and deep breathing. It turned out that some of my most type “A” clients, top athletes, real “go-getters” benefited the most from adding these techniques into their treatments…and they were also the most resistant. I walked them through the uncomfortable feeling of “stillness”, even when they were about to blow up at me. Each time, it turned out great, and we learned to communicate better…calmly.

I still feel like a kindergarten-er, learning new ways to help each different body feel better, run faster, punch harder, recover quicker. But mostly, I realize the importance of Calm…

Jordan Farrell Started as Our Intern Today

Please welcome Jordan Farrell from the Albuquerque Academy who is here doing his senior project for the next 4 weeks. He is here to experience what life is like as a massage therapist.

Jordan runs track for the Academy and will run next year for UNM’s Track team where he is attending school next semester. He will be studying Psychology…he thinks.

Already today Jordan has assisted us with a colonic, several massages, office chair massage and our “almost ready” website.