Deep Tissue Massage. The Barefoot Difference

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Everyone wants deep tissue massage. Unfortunately, deep tissue massage has gotten this "no pain- no gain" reputation. I hear novice massage therapists telling their clients to breathe through it as they push harder and harder. I hear clients expressing thoughts like, "well, it's got to hurt to work, right? "

Wrong! I have never subscribed to this point of view and I've got  proof to back me up.

I like to joke with my clients that  I'm not trying to bully their muscles into submission, or wage war on them, the muscles are already pissed off.  I'm trying to coax them there. Coaxing is always better than bullying.

The Facts:

  • No Pain No Gain looks like: shallow rapid breathe, constricting other muscles.

  • No Pain No Gain feels like: false confidence that you are relaxing the muscles that need to be worked while only contracting toes. When in fact you're contracting everywhere. You're guarding because it hurts!

  • Prolonged No Pain No Gain: you stop breathing entirely but don't even notice until your massage therapists gently asks "are you breathing? "

  • No Pain No Gain (last one) = Epic Parasympathetic Nervous System FAIL.


Say what? The para who?

The Parasympathetic Nervous System is your counter balance to the Sympathetic Nervous System. Together they make up the Autonomic Nervous System.


Simple terms: Rest and Renew vs Fight or Flight.

When you are in rest and renew, your body relaxes completely and starts doping you up with the good stuff, Oxytocin, Serotonin, Dopamine. While simultaneously inhibiting hormones such as Cortisol, and Epinephrine.

It, reduces blood pressure, strengthens the immune system and boosts your mood.

You want that. Your muscles want that too. This is where the muscle coaxing instead of bullying can take place.

This is where your body can experience lasting results and effectively reduce chronic pain.


Hands VS Feet. The barefoot Difference:

First off I will say that while I am totally biased towards feet, I did use my hands for 11 years. I offered deep tissue massage with my hands and I give pretty amazing deep tissue massage in the traditional hands on way. However, feet are where it's at.


Feet are broad and smooth. Hands or fore arms are poky and bony

Barefoot Massage is delivered from above the body so you receive a downward pressure that effectively compresses muscle tissue against bone, stimulating the joints and tendons as well as the muscle tissue. Hands simply don't have this ability.

Since I am on the table using gravity rather than sheer brute force, I am able to deliver a massage pressure that's consistent throughout the duration of the massage. Offering long sweeping strokes from head to toe. This consistent broad pressure has an incredible impact on the parasympathetic nervous system that I talked about above.

Feet are able to effect the tissue of the legs and low back in way that I have never received or given with my hands. Again, the broad flat surface of the foot accompanied with gravity and downward, as opposed to sideways pressure, is like heaven for your hams, quads and IT band... and everywhere else.