Nerves are the most sensitive/vulnerable tissues of your body; and nerves are much more sensitive/vulnerable than muscles. Too much pressure on a nerve and you’ll irritate the nerve. Nerves run through and around all of the muscles of your body. When you put massage pressure on a muscle you are also putting that massage pressure on nerves.
If you over massage a muscle, it will be sore. If you put too much pressure on a nerve with massage pressure, then the nerve can get irritated. I’ll give you an example of what happens when you put too much pressure on a nerve.
We’ve all sat at a movie theater with our legs crossed; and our foot falls asleep. There was no pain with your foot falling asleep. Nerves tell muscles what to do. When you cross your legs at a movie theater [by putting one thigh (upper leg) directly on top of the other thigh] the problem occurs with your foot; far away from where your thighs are crossed.
When too much pressure is put on nerves with massage most the vast majority of the time the results of the nerve pressure/irritation will be near the end of the nerve; not where the massage pressure is being applied. And like crossing your legs at a movie theater, unless you check for numbness or for the lack of the ability to move you probably won’t know that too much pressure is being put on the nerve by the massage pressure.
This point is the most important point when you’re getting a massage or when you’re doing self massage – don’t irritate the nerves. The nerves usually do not tell you that you’re irritating them. There are ways to find out if you’re putting too much pressure on a nerve. I instruct patients in how to detect early signs of nerve irritation.