We've all heard the no pain, no gain motto right? What if I let you in on a little secret....it doesn't have to hurt to work.
This applies across the board, we don't need to exercise to exhaustion to get results. We don't need to be left bruised and feeling broken after receiving manual therapies. We don't need to be constantly beating ourselves up on the inside with feelings of unworthiness and self doubt.
Life can be hard enough sometimes without feeling like we have to make it harder. Often times it's no pain, all gain. In life we need a healthy amount of stress or what's termed eustress physically, psychologically and biochemically in order to grow and become stronger physically and psychologically. Too much stress or bad forms of stress however in whatever form can be detrimental, it's not dissimilar to the Goldilocks dilemma, too much, too little and just right.
Exercise creates a form of stress on our body, just enough hard work and we stimulate feel good hormones and over time we create stronger bones and muscles, too much exercise or the same type of exercise over a period of time can create too much stress in the body leading to burn out and leave us prone to injury and we all know the detrimental effects of not enough exercise.
In massage and bodywork we are also looking for that just right feeling in regards to pressure but interestingly enough less is sometimes more when a system is already on high alert with injury or pain. Sometimes simple touch can provide just enough novel stimulus to turn down the alarm bells and if you are looking for more pressure it should feel like the good sort of sensation not the type where you are having to clench your teeth, curl your toes or hold your breath.
I think it's important to remember always that you are the boss of your body, you know your body much more intimately than any other specialist, therapist or teacher if something feels like it's too much whether in a hands on session or a class you have the authority to speak up or to not participate in something that feels like it's aggravating or not beneficial for you and your body at that time. Most skilled professionals will respect your ability to honour your body in this way, if they don't I would suggest you search out another professional to work alongside with.
Advanced clinical massage therapist and yoga teacher.