Why Slap A Crying Baby? A Student/Teacher Discussion About Pressure

Updated: Oct 28

Student Question : So in the class, the instructor mentioned that we don't aim to bruise the clients. However, today (the day after class) I have a couple of spots that are very tender but not visibly bruised. I have a few theories as to why but wanted to ask for more input or whether I am on the right track. The places I am still very tender are the posterior hip points (#2 and #3?) and Pt 1 on Posterior Distal Leg Line.

My thoughts are...

1) Those are fairly muscled areas, giving more tissue to press through, resulting tenderness

2) Not knowing what to anticipate, I tensed (consciously or not) against the intruding pressure, resulting bruise/tenderness

3) With only 3 students in the class, all of us received repeatedly. So maybe just the repeated application of pressure on the same spot led to bruise/tenderness?

Another question I had is... how can a client expect to feel the day after a Thai Massage session and/or acupressure? Is some tenderness expected/normal as is sometimes seen after Deep Tissue?

Instructor Jeffrey's Response : I would first like to say that all of your thoughts are very valid.  Pain and soreness are very complex and multifaceted.  I’ve been studying this for over 20 years and still learning and wondering about it yet I feel through experience that I have some understanding that goes something like this...

There are many different types pain and different reasons for the accompanying soreness. In my experience, even the medical community has differing theories and a general lack of explanations.

My thoughts about the tenderness in the points are...

1) The points themselves are already tender, but not noticeable until they are activated through repetitive acupressure. Then you notice them.

2) When activated through acupressure more blood and energy are brought to the points and area for healing.  Soreness can be sign of healing.

3). Your thoughts that you described are reasonable considerations.

No order in these thoughts really.  In my experience, there is often some soreness after a treatment.  It usually lasts for just a day or two, and then the area will feel much better than before (if there was pain there before) ore more freedom of motion (if there were restrictions there before), or more feeling there (if there was numbness there before).  Often the client doesn’t know whats happening in that area or surrounding area unless there is pain there before the treatment.  Pain gets peoples attention, and sometimes people associate pain with soreness, but they are different.  Or as the Thais like to say ‘Same Same but Different’.

I would say to clients, ‘You may or may not feel some soreness after a treatment, but then you should feel much better after a day or two’.

"Why slap a crying baby" is a phrased I learned in acupuncture school. When you find a painful point there is a tendency to want to beat it up. The point is like the baby. Do you yell at a crying baby? Or hit a crying baby to keep it from crying? Does that ever really help?

Jeffrey Elkins started his foray into the healing arts in Thailand studying Thai massage at the Old Medicine Hospital in 1997. After graduating from the Florida School of Massage in 2004 he went on to receive his Masters of Acupuncture degree from the Academy of Five Element Acupuncture in 2007.  His bachelor's degree is in International Studies from the University of Tennessee (1994). Jeffrey teaches Acu-Thai on the table and traditional Thai massage on the mat courses with Elevate Massage Training.