Is Deeper Massage Better?

‘You look too small to do deep tissue!’ was a common phrase I heard when I was a massage therapist and it turns out there seems to be a rumor going around in massage that I think we need to look a little closer into.  That rumor is deeper is always better when it comes to massage.  However, in there’s what we learn but then there is what is actually clinically true for us.  After years of massaging using all of my muscle and body weight, I now know that sometimes deeper is better…and sometimes it’s not.  It’s true that deep tissue is in fact a necessary way to address soft tissue disorders, however, it depends on each individual with how much pressure they can actually take.  Watch this video to find out exactly what the perfect balance of deep tissue is in the video below or keep reading.


What about the Nervous System?

What you are really looking to achieve in the massage therapy session is perfect balance between the nervous system and the soft tissue system (and the ‘qi’ or vital life force energy, but we can save that for another blog).  There are many things about the atmosphere, the provider and the different therapies they are trained in that can make this possible.  Another incredibly soothing tool for the nervous system on top of an already welcoming quiet and warm space is the addition of certain essential oils in a carrier oil to enhance the treatment and calm the nerves.  All of our providers here typically will assess what each individual is open to and try different modalities to get not only the soft tissue to release but the nervous system to relax as well.

You see, during a massage you should never feel tense or feel discomfort…usually.  Again, with certain techniques, there is sometimes some general discomfort that needs to be worked through.  However, this should only be for shorter times and not last the length of the treatment.  With any pain or discomfort in any massage setting for any amount of time, please always tell your therapist.  There is never unwelcome feedback in the world of massage therapy.  We always want to adjust to make sure we are hitting the sweet spot of firm enough pressure without eliciting a response or trigger to the nervous system, thus preventing deep releasing of the muscles, or knots.

Is Deep Tissue always Better?

What we have learned from some of the acupuncturists here at Isthmus that specialize in treatment of pain and chronic pain syndromes that often what we feel we need deep tissue on could actually be a case where myofascial, light cupping, stretching, neurovascular or lighter more integrative massage techniques may be the missing link for true healing potential.  Sick and tired of feeling sick and tired?  Try mixing up your approaches until you find the right mix that feels right for you and gets you closer to your goals.  And please remember, it takes time.  Be patient with your body as it ebbs and flows through it’s changing needs.  In holistic medicine, we try and take the fast lane when we are able, however, if we are driving an eight lane highway, we can only merge over one lane at a time!  Your body will not let us miss a step, so be patient as the process works itself out.

Labor Induction Acupuncture: What you Need to Know

Acupuncture during pregnancy and to prepare for labor is something we do all of the time as acupuncturists.  I personally can’t imagine either one of my pregnancies without acupuncture.  Part of me wanted to spend all of my extra time and resources on baby only, but taking care of both of us during the process of pregnancy felt right for me and it does for so many other women.  So many of the discomforts and daily challenges of being pregnant were responsive and healed from my weekly acupuncture treatments, but I think the thing that really stood out was my labor experience and a large part of that I credit to making the time for self care and getting treatment before I was actually in labor.  There’s a lot of rumors about what acupuncture is really doing for labor so I wanted to take the time to clear up the two different approaches you can take.

Labor Induction Acupuncture: Gentle care from 39 to 42 weeks of pregnancy

Labor induction acupuncture is a gentle and effective way to start labor and is often used as a last resort before medical intervention is necessary. Labor induction acupuncture treatments are given between 39-42 weeks as a natural means to encourage the mother’s body to start labor. When medical induction is necessary, women who have had labor induction acupuncture usually respond better to pitocin and other medications than women who haven’t had the labor induction acupuncture.  

Pre-birth Acupuncture: Gentle care from 36 weeks through labor and delivery

Pre-birth acupuncture can reduce induction rates by 35% and epidural rates by 31%. Pre-birth acupuncture promotes cervical ripening and effacement with optimal fetal positioning in the birth canal, which effectively encourage the “on-time” onset of labor.  Research shows women who receive pre-birth acupuncture have shorter labor time, less need for interventions and feel more positive about their birth experience postpartum. Isthmus Wellness recommends pre-birth acupuncture to all of their pregnant clients who consistently report having natural and ontime labor that averages 4-6 hours along with increased energy and healing postpartum. Women also report less fear and negative emotions sometimes associated with labor.  

What Pre-birth Acupuncture Does Not Do

Pre-birth acupuncture does not prematurely induce labor. It does not suggest that the mother’s body is not doing everything possible to prepare on its own. It supports all of the natural work that the mother’s body is already doing.

Labor Induction Acupuncture vs Pre-birth Acupuncture: Which one is right for me?

Pre-birth and labor induction acupuncture are both beneficial.  Both support any type of birth-plan, goals for labor and even scheduled c-sections. Isthmus Wellness has consistently seen the best results with those women who commit to the the weekly pre-birth acupuncture treatments and the labor induction treatments if needed. We strongly encourage women to take the time to prepare themselves for the miracle of birth and enjoy the pre-birth services we offer at Isthmus Wellness.

Please go to to schedule or call 608-441-9355.  If this is your first time to our clinic, please select New Patient Labor Prep otherwise Acupuncture Follow up is appropriate for existing patients.

What if I am not ready for acupuncture or really don’t want needles?

You can still get the benefits of pre-birth acupuncture through learning acupressure for birth partners.  We recommend learning the course between 36 and 38 weeks and practicing it daily starting at 38 weeks.  We have now created an online platform for you and your birth partner to learn the course from the comfort of your own home.  The link will be posted here in January 2019 as final edits are being made.  In the meantime, you can book ‘acupressure for birth partners’ through our website and come in to the office to learn it.


Betts D, Lennox S. Acupuncture for prebirth treatment: An observational study of its use in midwifery practice. Medical acupuncture 2006 May; 17(3):17-20.

Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnau M, Zeisler H, Husslein P. Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labour at term – a randomised controlled trail. Wien Klin Wochenschr 2001; 113 (23-24): 942-6.

Tempfer C, Zeisler H, Mayerhofe Kr, Barrada M Husslein P. Influence of acupuncture on duration of labour Gynecol Obstet Invest 1998; 46:22-5.

Citkovitz C; Klimenko E; Bolyai M; Applewhite L; Julliard K; Weiner Z.  Effects of acupuncture during labor and delivery in a U.S. hospital setting: a case-control pilot study.  Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 2009 May; 15 (5): 501-5.