Hurts So Good


Here at Mantis Massage, we specialize in Deep Tissue massage.  This means that we work with the muscles in your body that are deep to some other muscles in your body.  They are closer to the core, meaning that sometimes, we have to go through other muscle to get to them. A lot of people think that deep tissue massage means deep pressure.  Not so! There are ways to access deep tissue without using deep pressure, and it is also true that you can use deep pressure and not necessarily be accessing deep tissue - at least not directly.  

This may seem like a technical difference that doesn’t really apply to you as a client.  But here’s why this distinction is important! Sometimes people think that just because massage hurts means that it is doing something good for your muscles, or that conversely if it doesn’t hurt then it’s not really working.


The way that massage works with your body is by working with your neurological system.  Your therapist is using pressure to signal sensory organs within your muscle tissue, letting them know that is it ok to let go of the muscle contraction that is causing tension, pain and even blood stagnation in your body.  Every body is different, and for some people that means that more pressure will feel good to them, as they can feel their body loosening up and reacting well to the pressure. We like to call this “Therapeutic Pain”. Yes, it hurts.  But it hurts so good. It hurts in a way that feels therapeutic. You can feel it working, and the wisdom in your body says, “Yes! This is a good thing!”.

For other people, lots and lots of pressure signals a stress response in their bodies.  The pressure can be too much, and the body senses danger, avoiding the possibility of being crushed.  In this case, the pain does not feel therapeutic. There is pain, but no gain.  Instead, it feels like alarm! Your body is resisting the pressure and it just feels like pain, without the benefit of therapy.  

This distinction can be subtle, and thus is a reason why it is so important to keep communication channels open with your therapist.  This can also vary for different muscles and different areas of the body.

The most important takeaway here is that if your massage just hurts - and not in a good way - this doesn’t make you a wimp or mean that you need to just clam up and take it.  Massage should feel GOOD! Even if that means that it hurts so good. If it hurts in a good way, you’ll know it. And you are the only one that can really measure this difference.  Also, massage can be really effective even if it doesn’t hurt. It is entirely possible to communicate with your muscles using light pressure. It’s all about you, your muscles, and what y’all need.  




Did you know that you can receive a massage while listening to literally any kind of music?


At Mantis, your massage is all about you.  But did you know that? I mean really know that?  There are tons of ways to customize your massage. We want your session to be as unique as you are.  


Each of our therapists has her own personal style, and that will probably be reflected in the music that she chooses for your session.  But there’s the key, the music is a choice. At Mantis, we don’t impose music on our therapists, they get to choose it. As therapists, sometimes we remember to ask you about your music preference, and sometimes we don’t.  As a client, you might not even have a music preference, and making too many choices before your session can start to feel like work - we DEFINITELY don’t want that. But maybe you do have a music preference. Maybe you just came from a fantastic SXSW jam session from this AMAZING new artist that you just discovered via your new best friend that you just met at the Westworld interactive.  If it can be found on Spotify, then it can be played during your massage session. But also! If for some reason it can’t be found on Spotify, but it has found its way onto your iphone, you’re in luck. Our sound systems are equipped to hook up to your phone too! (*apple products only*) Volume is also totally customizable. Some clients have even been known to choose no music at all, which is totally allowed!



I heard once that in every room with at least 3 people in it, statistically you will find that ⅓ of the people are too cold, ⅓ are too hot, and ⅓ are just right.  It’s the story of Goldilocks and indoor climate control. The great thing about your massage session is that in this case, you are in charge. We’ve got heating pads on every massage table, and all have multiple heat settings.  We’ve also got warm, cozy blankets and optional hot towels. If heat just isn’t your thing, we also have fans in every room. Basically, no matter where you fall on the super scientific Goldilocks Heat Spectrum, we’ve got you covered.  


Sometimes, your whole body hurts.  That’s why you came in for a massage, amirite?  But sometimes, your body feels pretty great. Except for that one thing, which hurts like an evil demon of tension has gotten a hold of this one part of your body and just won’t let go.  (Is it possible to just chop off a chunk of my shoulder so I can go about my day?) Basically, we can spend your session giving an even balance of attention to your whole body, or, we can delve into your problem areas and exorcise the demon.  However we spend the focus of your session is totally up to you.

And on that note, it’s Spring!  Which means everything is, well, blooming.  If you are an allergy sufferer and just don’t want to spend any time with your face down, that’s ok!  Or maybe you’d rather spend all of the time with your face down to get your drainage going. Don't worry, we have tissues!  Just let us know what works for you and we’ll get you set up so you’re nice and cozy.  We can also change out our bolsters for pillows or set you up in side lying position. If you’ve got a bun in the oven, let us know when booking and we can make sure that a super qualified prenatal therapist sets you up with the level of bolstering that you need to keep you and your baby-to-be comfy and supported.    

UNDER wap, do do do do do (I’m not a musician, ok?)

Here at Mantis, we specialize in Deep Tissue.  But that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing we know how to do.  Maybe you usually like deeper pressure, but this week you’re recovering from all the hard work you’ve been doing festival hopping.  We can adjust accordingly and give you a nice relaxing massage to bring you back to yourself again.  Or maybe all that head-banging has beckoned the afore mentioned demon.  We've got the leverage to push it back out.  

This is one of the most important parts of the massage to customize.  Pressure is totally subjective, and sometimes different areas of the body need to be addressed differently.  I usually offer my clients a menu of pressure choices that go in order of intensity from Light to Medium to Firm to Deep.  Let us know what you like and what you don’t.


Soothing Lavender.  Peppy Peppermint. Some people totally dig essential oils.  Aromatherapy can be a powerful tool to alleviate stress. Research has even shown that intensive sniffing of lavender oils can help with some of the symptoms of PMS.  However great some people find essential oils to be, some people just don’t like them. Hormones can have a startling effect on your senses and if you’re pregnant, ovulating, or experiencing menopause, you can be super sensitive to strong smells.  We want you to smell nice..things. We want you to smell the things you want to smell and not smell the things you don’t. So let us know what’s going on in that ol' olfactory factory of yours.



I've mentioned this before, but I think it's worth sounding like a broken record.  Eyes may be the window into the soul, but straight up verbal communication is like a breezy open doorway.  If you tell us about your individual needs, we will do our best to deliver.  But if you never tell us, we'll never know.  This is your therapy session.  Let it be as therapeutic for you as it possibly can be.  


(Just A Few) Health Benefits of Massage

Photo credit hannah h.

Photo credit hannah h.

So you know that massage feels good.  And that might be enough to keep coming back for more.  But did you also know that massage is good for you? Massage has a TON of health benefits for the body.  This week we’re going to take some time to name just a few.


Massage helps relieve muscle tension, whether that tension stems from an injury, postural issues, or just from hitting the gym hard and heavy.  Or from hitting Jim hard and heavy (oh, for the love of puns!).  Whatever the source of your muscle tension, massage communicates with your nervous system and says, “Hey muscles, you can let go now.  I’ve got it from here,”. 


In fact, what usually causes that sudden muscle ache is that a muscle (often Levator Scapulae - a topic for another post!) becomes overstretched or strained in some way.  The wisdom of our bodies will tell this muscle that there is some sort of danger present, and the muscle will contract in order to protect itself.  Which is great! This prevents tears or further muscle strain, and keeps you from becoming Stretch Armstrong.  

What’s not great is that sometimes, even once the danger has passed, the muscle stays contracted.  It doesn’t always know when to let go. The muscle contraction is what hurts, because your blood flow has been interrupted.  Because it takes energy to maintain a muscle contraction, this can also cause fatigue - either limited to the muscle itself, or if enough of your muscles are stuck in contraction, all over body fatigue.  And that’s where massage comes in. As Massage Therapists, we are using pressure (or other various massage techniques) to actually communicate, through the sensors in your muscles, with your nervous system.  The message is that the danger has passed, and that it is ok to let go. Your sensors go, “Ohhhh...right”, and then your muscles go, “Ahhhh..” as the muscle contraction is released and the pain dissipates.  

So by relieving muscle tension, massage in turn also helps promote better blood flow, ease fatigue, improve sleep, improve heart health, and give your skin a nice rosy glow of vitality.  



It feels good to feel good!  Why this might seem like a simple detail, taking time for yourself to do something that feels good has tremendous psychological benefits.  You could be rewarding yourself for reaching a goal or completing a job well done. Or it could be that you are simply nourishing yourself and listening to your body’s needs.   Either way, doing something that feels good is a great way to affirm yourself in a positive way. It reinforces the idea that you deserve good things, because you do!


Stress is one of those concepts that is so common that we seldom give it much thought.  But what is stress? Is it an emotion or a physiological process? In short, it’s both. Stress in the body is actually a response to a stressor.  Sometimes that stressor is psychological, sometimes it’s physical. Either way, the body will respond physically to this stressor, which in turn can also have an emotional effect on our well-being.  Sometimes it can feel like you’re going in circles!


The good news is that massage is great for stress!  While the physical touch of your Massage Therapist initiates a chain reaction of relaxation in the body, your mind is also attended to by the act of stopping and slowing down.  By taking a mini vacation from the physical and emotional stressors in your life, you begin to break the hold that stress has on you. Basically, you’re still going in circles, but in the opposite direction.  The more relaxed you are, the less stress you will feel, which will make you more relaxed, and… you get the idea.