For me, mostly a style difference. Having had massage for over 30 years, and trained as a massage therapist when previously married to a Chiropractor, I am specific about what I like, which includes a slower firm but not too hard touch initially, to allow my muscles to relax, and then the massage can go deeper. Unlike one of the recent reviews, I know that it is possible to gain relief without intense pain. As a plus, Maria knows the muscles, and she knows when the muscles are responding, which is a good thing. Her pace was too fast for me, and so difficult for me to reach the relaxation state. She’s experienced, and has a technique that may work for you. Try her out; your body will tell you.