I had a chronic-pain client come and see me in the past week after a particularly-stressful time period. As a result, her pain sensitivity through her neck and upper traps was through the roof, and she recoiled from only very light pressure from my hands.
Knowing that it wouldn't be productive to simply try and force my way into her muscle tissue and use physical means to get my client to relax, I instead did some education on pain.
I used this great example from Dr. Jarod Hall, on Facebook where he talked about how he experienced a splinter poking him in the back in a sauna. However, due to being in the hot sauna, his nervous system interpreted the "poke" sensation as "burning" due to the expectation of what kind of a sauna would typically cause. Yep, the body can be that easy to trick!
With that being said, I was able to use that experience to teach my client on how it's unnecessary to expect pain, especially when the oncoming stimulus isn't an appropriate one. By coaching her through self-talk to convince her that the pressure from my hands, while perhaps not being the most comfortable, wouldn't cause her any physical harm or damage, her pain sensitivity decreased dramatically. And just like that, without any other physical intervention, I was immediately able to apply more pressure to those sensitized area than ever before!
Remember, pain isn't all in your head! But the head sure can affect things!