“Wow, you’re really tense here,” is a phrase most of us have heard coming from the mouth of a massage therapist at work. But the idea that massage therapists can, by touch alone, identify a problematic area of the back is a myth.
A recent research study has shown that massage therapists have only a 59-65% chance of identifying the afflicted side of a back or neck by touch alone (Maigne, Cornelis & Chatellier 2012). This is without even locating the painful point itself — the claim that most massage therapists make the moment they lay hands on a patient’s back. To even further debunk the myth, another study has proven that there is no correlation between shoulder muscle pain and the hardness of the muscle (Andersen et al. 2010).
The science is conclusive: it is impossible for a massage therapist to “feel out” the painful areas in your back. They can, however, use your body language and vocal cues to lead them in finding the painful areas.