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The Many Levels of Pressure Levels (yes, I meant it that way)

Luckily for all of us, there are smart and practical people in the world. One of my favorite smart and practical people is Tracy Walton over in Boston. She taught me Oncology Massage Therapy, but has standardized Levels of Pressure for the entire world of massage therapists. She had the incredible good fortune to work with Gayle MacDonald and Dawn Nelson, who conceived of the idea and especially described the first two levels.

For those of you who have been sadly bereft and don't know about her levels of pressure, let me enlighten you.

Image: adorably smiley Tracy Walton in front of trees


Level 1 is considered "Light Lotioning."

Autocorrect simply does not accept the the word "lotioning," but it also doesn't accept "Autocorrect." Ironic.

Light lotioning is a full-hand contact but gentle level of pressure you might use to apply lotion, as though you had to apply aloe vera gel when you have a really bad sunburn.

Level 2 is "heavy lotioning," which is the pressure you use to rub in lotion, like the depth of pressure I'd use to rub sunscreen into the arms of a squirming toddler.

Level 3 is the gold standard "Swedish massage" relaxation pressure where you're starting to work the muscles instead of just gliding across them. You might see the nearby joints move a bit.

Level 4 is what most people want when they ask for "Deep Pressure." This is when I start really leaning on a client. This is the deepest most people can tolerate. Really, folks, trust me on this. Don't do the thing where you say "But you said DEEP PRESSURE" when you break their ribs.