Normally, I subscribe to the no pain, no gain philosophy for my deep tissue massages. But I stood - or rather lay - corrected, when Burke Williams Mission Viejo massage therapist Nicole got to work on me.
She did warn me before beginning my 50-minute deep tissue that she's strong. When she asked me what level I enjoyed, I said, "The deeper the better." But she suggested she start light to medium and go from there. After a couple of minutes of trying to breathe properly so I wouldn't cry, I informed her that maybe we should go a little lighter - at which she laughed, but in a nice way.
Lighter was definitely more pleasant, but not less effective. According to Nicole, a deep tissue need not be super deep for it to be effective; if it's on the lighter side, you just need more patience. I could see what she meant.
As she worked on my back and shoulders - my major problem area - she used fluid and repetitive strokes, enough so that I felt them while not being excruciating. She worked specific areas for longer than I recall of other deep tissues, probably because she was using repetition over might. Her technique, which she said was her own special method, varied in other ways. For instance, to stretch my arms, she bent each over one of her legs for a greater stretch, proving quite effective. And while she certainly paid close attention to my back, she also included my legs and feet more in the mix than other deep tissue therapists. She practiced some long strokes along the fronts of my shins, which was both deep and unique. She also focused on the fronts of my feet quite a bit by stretching them down firmly and massaging right above them. When she got to my hands, she stretched my fingers firmly straight out so that they popped with relief. She ended with a sweeping up motion from my spine toward my neck and along my chest, also pressing along my forehead, temples, eyes, and face area.
I was left absolutely free of stress and knots. And ready to not do a single thing for the rest of my day... other than to remember to recommend this massage to anyone looking for a fantastic, functional deep tissue massage that doesn't even have to hurt.
$130 for 50 minutes; $190 for 80 minutes