Massage 2

Bodywork Therapies – It doesn’t have to hurt to benefit


By Donna Gianniotis

How many of us subscribe to the philosophy of ‘no pain – no gain’ and apply it to various aspects of our lives?

Yet when we truly practice yoga, we learn to develop a relationship with our body, where we listen to what it is telling us and respond and move in a way that is deeply honouring. After all, yoga means union and how can we be in union if there is not a true respect for the body.

This means no pushing, no hardness, no pain.

With this, there is much to actually gain.

Pain is the body’s feedback mechanism to say stop what you are doing. Our mind can often override this signal, but at what cost to the body? When pain is felt the body responds by causing the muscles to harden up around the injured site for protection to avoid further injury.

So what happens when we actively go into a movement that stretches the body to an extent where there is pain? The connective tissue (or commonly known as fascia) also hardens up in order to protect the body.

Connective Tissue is a system of tissues that runs throughout all the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, nerves, blood vessels and organ overlapping and enveloping soft tissue structures like cling film.

So if our aim is to loosen and open the body, to have more fluidity, then why would we induce pain and cause more tension? It just doesn’t make sense.

So if we apply this in the true practice of yoga, then it only makes sense to apply this across the board with all bodywork therapies including massage.

As a yoga teacher, connective tissue therapist and massage therapist, I have come to understand that the best way of releasing tension in the body is through the quality of connection – not force. A stronger stretch in yoga or a harder stroke in massage may offer temporary relief, but does it solve the underlying problem in the long term? I would beg to differ.

For long term healing, the approach that I take as a bodywork therapist is to respect and respond to the connective tissue by working with the body in a connected and gentle way.

As an example, in massage, rather than forcefully working into a trigger point (a point of tension held in the muscle) to access the deep tissue and muscles, the body requires lots of repetitive strokes to first of all warm up the outer layer of muscles allowing access to the next and deeper level of muscles (hence the name deep tissue).

If you try to access the deeper muscles via force and without truly understanding the role of the connective tissue in the body, the outer muscles harden and go into protection going against what we are trying to achieve, which is to relax the muscles. Once the outer muscles have been warmed up, then we can access the deeper tissue in a gentle manner, with no force and without inflicting pain.

With the modality of Esoteric Connective Tissue Therapy we work with gentle hands-on healing techniques performed with slow rhythmic motion on various parts of the body. The therapy works directly with both the physical structures of the body (muscles, joints etc) and the energy that flows through the connective tissue system and in turn releases tension and tightness in the muscles.

By listening to the body and treating it with absolute care and gentleness it leads the body towards it own natural state of healing with no pain inflicted.

Donna Gianniotis offers Remedial Massage, Esoteric Massage, Esoteric Connective Tissue Therapy, Esoteric Healing and Chakra Puncture. For bookings please call Donna 0408 7838187 or email




  1. Stephen Gammack
    Stephen Gammack07-11-2017

    I’d never really thought about it before but it makes no sense to apply deep pressure to create more length in muscle tissue or connective tissue, as surely this just creates a bracing in the body. I have actually seen this in people receiving hard pressure massage, where one strain is removed only to be replaced by another one as the body relocates the tension that was forced out of one area of the body and into another. So gentle really is not just easier to handle, but much more effective too.

    • Donna Gianniotis
      Donna Gianniotis07-11-2017

      Yes Stephen, when hard pressure is applied in massage, the body tenses up. It just doesn’t make sense to create more tension when we are actually wanting to release it.

  2. Alison

    Thank you Donna for this enlightening blog on how we need to truly interact with the body and it’s definitely not from force but from love and gentleness. I’ve never enjoyed feeling beaten up by Massage and come out in more pain than when I walked in. I massage with you sounds like exactly what my body needs!

  3. Matthew Nolan
    Matthew Nolan07-11-2017

    This is an awesome article Donna, which highlights the damage we can do to our body by overriding our inbuilt alarm system that tells us something is not right – pain. This misplaced concept that without pain there can be no gain has been exposed. Can a deeper level of healing be achieved through a more gentle approach – not only in bodywork therapies but in our life more generally? Is there a much greater wisdom present within our bodies than that we perceive in our mind?

  4. Kate Gamble
    Kate Gamble07-16-2017

    Darling Donna. your massages are amazing. You always know how much pressure to apply and I always feel transported to another dimension.

    Amazing massage therapist and so close to hime on the Lower North Shore! .

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"The only form of active self-healing is in the quality of one's own presence in all that you do." Serge Benhayon