After a long week of work and stress, there’s nothing quite like a relaxing massage to relieve tension and help you unwind. But once the initial feeling of relaxation wears off, some people may notice that their muscles feel sore or tender.
If this has ever happened to you, you might be wondering if it’s normal to experience discomfort after a massage. Perhaps you’ve heard conflicting opinions from friends or family members – some say it’s perfectly normal, while others insist that a good massage shouldn’t leave you feeling anything but relaxed.
To clear things up, we’ve gathered information about what happens to your body during a massage, common reasons why you might feel sore afterwards, and how to tell whether your discomfort is cause for concern or just part of the healing process.
“Massage therapy can provide many benefits, including increased circulation, reduced anxiety, and improved flexibility. However, depending on your individual circumstances, you may feel some temporary soreness after a session.”
So, should you expect to feel sore after a massage? Keep reading to find out!
Understanding Post-Massage Soreness
What is Post-Massage Soreness?
Post-massage soreness or muscle soreness after a massage is the feeling of discomfort or stiffness felt in the muscles and joints after undergoing a massage therapy session. It typically occurs a few hours to a day after receiving the massage.
During a massage, therapists apply pressure and manipulate tight areas of the body. While this can help reduce tension, release knots, and improve circulation, it may also lead to some discomfort and soreness afterward.
The intensity and duration of post-massage soreness vary from person to person. Some people experience mild and short-lived soreness, while others have intense and persistent pain that lasts for several days.
Is Post-Massage Soreness Normal?
Yes, post-massage soreness is entirely normal and expected. In fact, some level of soreness is often a sign that your therapist successfully targeted specific areas of tension and stimulated blood flow to those regions. The mild discomfort you feel is similar to what happens after an intensive workout, a new exercise routine, or even walking long distances on holidays.
Your muscles and tissues undergo a lot of physical stress during a massage, which causes minor injuries and inflammation. As a result, your body responds with the inflammatory response mechanism, producing white blood cells and other substances that work to repair the damage caused by the therapeutic touch.
You may also experience some bruising, swelling, tenderness, or redness in the treated areas. These are all normal responses to massage therapy and do not necessarily indicate any serious harm or injury.
How to Differentiate Between Pain and Soreness?
Pain feels different from typical post-massage soreness. Pain is defined as a sharp, shooting sensation that makes you wince or cry. It may occur instantly or develop over time and feels more intense than post-massage soreness.
The key difference between pain and soreness is the severity of the discomfort felt. If you experience acute or chronic pain after a massage, it could indicate serious underlying conditions such as torn muscles, nerve damage, tendonitis, or ruptured discs. In this case, seek medical attention immediately.
On the other hand, if you feel fatigue, stiffness, tightness, or mild ache for up to 3 days after receiving a massage, it’s most likely related to muscle soreness, which should subside naturally on its own. You can use hot or cold compresses, gentle stretching, and drinking plenty of water to ease your symptoms, but avoid overusing any medication like ibuprofen, morphine, aspirin, or steroids without consulting a doctor first.
“If you’re feeling sore in multiple areas of the body and/or the soreness isn’t going away, speak with your therapist,” says Ariana La Cour, Licensed Massage Therapist at Mpower Bodywork LLC in Portland, OR. “Feeling flu-like symptoms or chills are not normal.”
Post-massage soreness is entirely normal and safe, although it should be differentiated from pain and addressed appropriately based on your comfort level and specific needs. Follow an open line of communication with your therapist before, during, and after the session to let them know about your pain tolerance, pressure preference, and feedback so you both can enjoy a positive outcome from each massage therapy session.
Reasons Why You Might Feel Sore After a Massage
Deep Tissue Massage
If you’ve recently had a deep tissue massage, it’s normal to feel sore afterwards. This type of massage therapy focuses on the deepest layers of muscles and can help alleviate chronic pain and tension. However, because of its intense pressure, it can cause muscle soreness for up to two days after the massage.
“Deep tissue massage uses firm pressure and slow strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and fascia. It’s used for chronic aches and pain and contracted areas such as a stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders.” -Mayo Clinic
Trigger Point Therapy
Another potential cause of post-massage soreness is trigger point therapy. Trigger points are specific spots within muscles that can cause referred pain in other parts of the body. A therapist will apply pressure to these points during treatment, which may result in temporary discomfort or soreness afterward.
“Travell and Simons’ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual” explains that trigger points develop from overuse, trauma, or injury. When these trigger points are stimulated during a massage, they release tension in both muscles and connective tissues.” -Healthline
If your massage therapist works too hard on a particular area, you might find yourself feeling sore. Overworking the muscles, especially with techniques like kneading or compression, can lead to inflammation and soreness. Be sure to communicate with your therapist about any pain or discomfort you are experiencing so they can adjust their technique accordingly.
“Massage therapists use their hands, forearms, fists and knuckles to knead and stroke your muscles and loosen adhesions. Although deep tissue massage work is intense, it should not be painful.” -WebMD
Massage promotes blood flow and can cause dehydration, which could result in a feeling of post-massage soreness. When muscles are massaged, fluid from inside cells flushes out, increasing overall fluid loss from the body. To combat this issue, make sure you drink plenty of fluids before and after your massage.
“After being touched by a therapist’s skilled hands, we often feel more connected to our bodies and the world around us,” says Jennifer Blancard, owner of Pure Wellness Centre. “However, all that manipulation and movement means water and toxins have been stirred up within the body, so it’s important to rehydrate with extra water afterward.”” -The Healthy
If you’re wondering whether it’s normal to feel sore after a massage, the answer is yes! However, there are several reasons why this might be the case including deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, overworked muscles, and dehydration. Don’t be afraid to communicate with your massage therapist about any pain or discomfort during treatment, and remember to drink plenty of fluids before and after your session to promote proper hydration.
How Long Should Soreness Last After a Massage?
If you’ve ever had a massage, there’s a good chance you have experienced some soreness the following day. But how long should this soreness last? Is it normal to feel sore after a massage? Let’s take a closer look.
Factors Affecting Soreness Duration
The length of time that soreness lasts after a massage can depend on several different factors. The type of massage received, as well as the intensity and duration of the session, can all play a role in the amount of soreness felt afterwards.
Your own individual health status and physical condition may also impact how long you experience soreness after a massage. If you are generally healthy and in good shape, you may experience less overall soreness than someone who is dealing with chronic pain or an injury.
Typical Soreness Duration
Most individuals will experience at least some degree of soreness after a massage, especially if it was their first time receiving one. Typically, this soreness will start to develop about 24 hours after the massage has ended.
Soreness from a massage is typically short-lived, lasting no more than a few days. In many cases, the majority of soreness will dissipate within the first 48 hours after receiving a massage.
When to Expect Relief
If you’re feeling particularly sore after a massage, don’t worry – relief is on the way! As mentioned above, most people will experience significant relief from soreness within the first two days following their massage.
You can help encourage relief by taking care of yourself in the days after your massage. This includes things like drinking plenty of water, getting enough rest, and avoiding strenuous physical activities that could further exacerbate any soreness you are feeling.
What if Soreness Lasts Longer Than Expected?
In rare cases, some individuals may experience soreness for a longer period of time after receiving a massage. If your soreness persists for more than a few days, it’s important to discuss this with your massage therapist or healthcare provider.
It’s possible that there may be an underlying issue causing the prolonged soreness, such as a muscle strain or other injury. Additionally, if you have a chronic pain condition or are dealing with an acute injury, it’s possible that a massage may not be the best choice for your body at this time.
“Some individuals may experience muscular soreness lasting several days post-treatment (similar to exercise-induced muscle irritation), although tolerable and treatment-appropriate level of discomfort is different from person to person.” -Jill Kohn, Certified Massage Therapist
If you’re experiencing unexplained or prolonged soreness after a massage, the best course of action is to speak with your therapist or healthcare provider in order to ensure that you are able to maintain your overall health and wellness.
In conclusion, while it’s perfectly normal to feel some degree of soreness after a massage, this soreness should typically start to dissipate within a day or two following the session. If you find that your soreness is long-lasting or particularly severe, talk with your therapist or healthcare provider to determine the best course of action.
Ways to Relieve Soreness After a Massage
Massage therapy offers many benefits like reducing stress, alleviating pain, and promoting relaxation. However, it is not uncommon to feel sore or achy after a massage session.
Is It Normal To Feel Sore After A Massage?
The answer is yes, feeling sore after a massage is normal as it’s your body’s natural response to the pressure and manipulation of your muscles and tissues during a massage session. The good thing about this post-massage soreness is that it usually disappears within 24-48 hours. But for those experiencing lingering discomforts, here are some ways to relieve soreness after a massage:
Inadequate hydration can cause soreness because water helps your body flush out toxins and metabolic waste produced by muscle contraction, which causes soreness in the first place. Drinking plenty of water before and after a massage can help prevent soreness and aid in recovery.
“Drinking water after a massage may help relieve soreness faster since it hydrates your muscles and stimulates blood flow.” – Katelyn MacDougall, LMT
Stretching is perhaps one of the easiest and most effective ways to alleviate post-massage soreness. Gently stretching your muscles after a massage helps improve circulation, reduces stiffness, minimizes muscle fatigue, and promotes quick recovery. Pay close attention to areas of the body that were targeted during your massage session and perform slow, gentle stretches for these specific areas.
“Regular stretching after a massage provides extra relief for stiff muscles and keeps them from tightening up again.” – Richard Price, Certified Fitness Trainer
After receiving a massage, giving your body rest is another great way to relieve soreness. Rest gives your muscles ample time to heal and recover from the strain of a massage session. Engaging in strenuous activities immediately after a massage can exacerbate symptoms of post-massage soreness.
“Allowing yourself enough time for rest and recovery is key to avoiding persistent soreness.” – Dr. Lauren Millman, PT
Heat or Ice Therapy
Heat and ice are both effective therapies that can help reduce inflammation, swelling, pain, and muscle soreness. Applying heat to tight muscles before stretching helps improve flexibility while applying cold therapy directly after a massage helps reduce muscle tension and soreness.
“Alternating between hot and cold temperatures is an excellent technique to provide relief when you feel additional discomfort post-massage.” – David Lopez, Physical Therapists’
- Soreness after a massage is normal but there are ways to alleviate it. Hydration, stretching, resting, and heat/cold therapy are some effective methods you can use to recover more quickly from post-massage discomforts. Remember to pay close attention to how your body feels and if necessary, seek advice from medical professionals for any unusual pains or prolonged discomforts.
When Should You Be Concerned About Soreness After a Massage?
If you’ve ever received a massage, you know it can leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. However, soreness after a massage is not uncommon and can sometimes be of concern. So, is it normal to feel sore after a massage? The answer is yes, but there are certain signs that indicate you might need to seek medical attention.
It’s common to experience some level of discomfort or muscle tenderness after a deep tissue massage as the therapist applies pressure to release knots and tight muscles. This soreness should last no more than a few days. However, if the pain is intense or sharp, it could indicate an injury. In such cases, it’s wise to consult your physician because ignoring the problem could cause further damage.
“If the pain is severe or lasts longer than a few days, speak to your doctor immediately.” -Dr. Karthik Krishnamurthy
Swelling or Redness
Sometimes, a post-massage reaction may manifest in the form of swelling or reddening around the treated area.This condition is known as oedema. It typically occurs when large amounts of pressure have been concentrated on a specific point for too long. If left untreated this could lead to loss of blood flow and inflammation of nerve fibre leading to neuronal death.
“Swelling is never a good thing. While it’s normal to have minor swelling in the affected muscles from deep tissue massage, greater swelling needs to be checked out by your practitioner.” -Whitney Lowe, Director of Orthopedic Massage Education & Research Institute (OMERI)
Fever or Other Systemic Symptoms
A fever after a massage could be an indication of infection. This can happen if bacteria enter the body from broken skin during the massage or due to cross-contamination caused by poor hygiene. Other symptoms to watch out for include chills, diarrhea, vomiting and muscle weakness. If you experience any of these symptoms after a massage, seek medical attention immediately.
“If you develop any systemic symptoms within 24 hours after your session such as fever, nausea, vomiting, flu-like symptoms, call your practitioner right away or go to the emergency room.” -Heather Wibbels, author of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Experiencing soreness after a therapeutic massage is normal. However, there are a few red flags to keep in mind when it comes to post-massage soreness. Intense pain that lasts longer than a few days, swelling or reddening in the treated area, and systemic symptoms like fever or gastrointestinal issues could indicate a more serious issue. Paying close attention to any unusual reactions or signals your body sends will protect you against further harm while ensuring you get quality care when and where needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I feel sore after a massage?
Feeling sore after a massage is a common reaction. The soreness is caused by the manipulation of your muscles during the massage, which can cause micro-tears in the muscle fibers. This can lead to inflammation and soreness, but it is a normal part of the healing process. The increased blood flow to the affected areas can also cause soreness.
How long does the soreness usually last?
The soreness usually lasts for a day or two after the massage. However, it can last up to a week in some cases. The duration of the soreness depends on the type of massage, the intensity of the pressure, and the individual’s response to the massage. Drinking plenty of water and getting enough rest can help to alleviate the soreness.
Is it normal to feel soreness in specific areas after a massage?
Yes, it is normal to feel soreness in specific areas after a massage. This is because the massage therapist may have focused on specific areas of your body that were tight or sore. The soreness usually indicates that the muscles have been worked on and are healing. However, if you experience sharp or intense pain, you should consult your massage therapist immediately.
What can I do to relieve the soreness after a massage?
Drinking plenty of water, taking a warm bath, and getting enough rest can help to alleviate soreness after a massage. Stretching and light exercise can also help to reduce the soreness and improve circulation. You can also try using a heating pad or applying a cold compress to the affected areas. If the soreness persists, you should consult your massage therapist for additional recommendations.
Can a massage cause any serious harm or injury?
While massages are generally safe, there are some risks involved. In rare cases, a massage can cause serious harm or injury, such as nerve damage, muscle strains, or blood clots. To minimize the risk of injury, you should always communicate any medical conditions or concerns with your massage therapist. You should also ensure that the massage therapist is licensed and trained to perform the type of massage you are receiving.
Should I avoid getting a massage if I have a low pain tolerance?
Not necessarily. A skilled massage therapist can adjust the pressure and intensity of the massage to accommodate your pain tolerance. You should communicate any discomfort or pain during the massage so that the therapist can make any necessary adjustments. If you are concerned about your pain tolerance, you should discuss this with your massage therapist before the massage begins.