In my honest opinion the simple answer is no. No, massage shouldn’t hurt.
However, there is a smudgy grey area in between pleasure and pain.
Your massage shouldn’t have you gritting your teeth or clenching your knuckles or gripping onto the table for dear life.
Although if this is something you personally enjoy then carry on!
If your massage treatment turns into something you no longer enjoy or don’t look forward to, you need to tell your therapist to use less pressure, because we are not mind readers! We won’t be offended. Everybody likes a different pressure and if you don’t communicate your preferences the therapist won’t know that you’re not enjoying your massage.
On some occasions a massage may feel a little tender or a little uncomfortable, these feelings are ok. Sometimes if you have an old injury, or you’ve been carrying around muscle tension for a long time, there can be some scar tissue and knots in your muscles. These can feel a little uncomfortable when being massaged and it is to be expected. But this shouldn’t be painful.
There are also times when you might feel a little sore after your massage, sometimes into the next day. Again, this will usually be because of the breakdown of some scar tissue or long term adhesions within your muscles. Usually the soreness will disappear within 24-48 hours leaving you feeling better than you were originally. This soreness is likened to the soreness that comes from doing a new exercise routine (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness – DOMS).
In sports massage a lot of people think of the term “no pain, no gain”. I think this is a misleading saying. Yes there might be some uncomfortable moments that you need to get through to feel better, but there shouldn’t be pain. The same as exercise; you might feel uncomfortable and have to push yourself to finish, but there shouldn’t be pain. Pain would probably indicate an injury.
I believe massage should be healing, and most certainly allow you to relax in order for your body to do the hard work of repairing itself. And how can your body do that when you have to scrape yourself off the ceiling after a treatment?
Above all, massage should be an enjoyable experience and if you aren’t enjoying it then please let your therapist know.
This does go the other way as well, if you feel your therapist is being too gentle please also let them know!