I had a couple new clients this week. Most of my clients are regulars (monthly or bi-weekly) so a new client keeps me on my toes as I want them to return too. We have to get to know each other, so good communication is essential. After the intake and evaluation she asked me to spend time on specific areas of tension. I asked what kind of pressure she preferred and to let me know if more was needed at times, or (conversely) when to back off.
Of course, the body communicates as well, with areas of sensitivity, misalignment, and tight muscles that aren't quite ready to let go. Gradual pressure to the clients level of comfort is my working process. This client had regular massage treatments in the past and knew to speak up and give feedback. Never lay quietly on the table, uncomfortable with techniques you aren't enjoying. Let the massage therapist (MT) know and they can change it up as MTs are trained in a lot of different modalities. A first session with a new MT might have this dialog: "I prefer medium pressure" to start, and then, "you can go deeper here" or "that's a little too much."
Don't think only deep techniques are required to work out those knots either; it's an individual preference. There are many light touch therapies that are just as beneficial as deep tissue in releasing the muscles. A skilled and experienced professional will mix it up to get the desired effect depending on your response.
It's normal to feel a little sore in the heavily worked areas for a day or two. Any soreness after that usually means it was too much too soon, so let the therapist know next time you see them and they'll adjust. Communicating effectively with your MT can make all the difference to whether you receive a good massage or not.