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  • Doug Nelson

Pressure Obsession

It is my impression that we, in the massage therapy field, are slightly obsessed with the concept of pressure. I hear it referenced quite often in many different ways and it seems to be the topic of numerous discussions. Massage therapists and their clients use terms like "deep" tissue. I overheard a recent discussion, the point of which was to delineate relaxing massage therapy from more corrective work, differentiating it by the amount of pressure used. The whole discussion seems, from my perspective, misdirected.


As a reference point, I would like to posit that touch is very much a form of communication. The point of communication is the transference of ideas. As touch is to communication, pressure is to volume. Seldom does turning up the volume enhance effective communication (although this has been explored quite often!)


To that point, I recently attended a performance at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, lead by violinist Daniel Hope. At one point in the second movement, the ensemble played so quietly, I could barely hear them. Their bows were moving, but i struggled to hear the music. I must also add that my wife and I were in the fifth row of a 2200 seat performance hall. The ability of the ensemble to play with high intensity, yet barely audible volume had me perched at the edge of my seat. It was a stunning display of artistry and mastery.

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