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.  


What is this cupping thing anyway?


If you watched any of the 2016 Summer Olympic games, or saw the Lady Gaga Netflix documentary Five Foot Two, chances are you’ve seen those weird hickey-like circles on people’s backs.  And if that’s the case, chances are you’ve heard of cupping, and wondered to yourself, “What the heck is that stuff all about anyway?”

Turns out Cupping Therapy has been around literally thousands of years.  It has just become more widely known recently because, well, the internet & social media.  


First of all, what IS cupping?


Cupping therapy is a bodywork modality that uses negative pressure (produced by using suction cups), rather than tissue compression, to facilitate rigid soft tissue release and to loosen and lift connective tissue while increasing localized blood and lymph flow to the skin and muscles.  

Dry cupping, using glass, plastic, or silicone cups uses either a small amount of heat to create a vacuum, or a manual or electronic air pump to suck out the air in the cups to create the suction needed to lift the skin and fascia away from the bones and muscles.  It’s like massage in the reverse.  Instead of applying a positive pressure to push the soft tissues around, it uses a negative pressure to lift and move them around.  Neat, huh?


And WHAT’S with the weird circles?


According to, clients may “experience a slight twinge when the skin is pulled up by suction. Because the skin is tugged upwards, sometimes tiny capillaries under the surface of the skin tend to expand, and after the cup is removed, patients might notice a circular bruise accompanied by some amount of swelling.”  The bruises will heal on their own and usually disappear completely within anywhere from a few days to a week or two.  

But don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt like it looks like it does.  During the time that the cups are working, you feel a slight negative pressure - just like you feel pressure from a massage.  You’ll definitely feel it.  And yeah it can sort of be uncomfortable. But it doesn’t feel like a punch in the back (which is honestly what I was picturing the first time I saw these bruises!)  It just feels like someone is lifting your stuck muscles away from each other.  This can feel like a rush of relief as the tightness dissipates and new fresh blood rushes into your sore, tired muscles.  


So WHY do therapists offer cupping?

Cupping therapy can relieve blood stagnation, improve blood circulation, decrease high blood pressure, loosen connective tissue, promote healing and relaxation, and aid in your body’s natural detoxification.  


WHERE do I find this fantastic treatment?  

At Mantis, we have several therapists that offer Cupping Therapy!  Swing by our South Congress location to see Khammi, Julia, or Melissa.  Closer to our Airport location?  Melissa works there too!  If you know ahead of time that you want cupping, mention it in the notes when you book!