If you’ve ever felt sick after a massage, you’re not alone. Many people experience this and it can be a distressing feeling. The good news is that there are actually quite a few reasons why you might feel ill or uncomfortable after a massage and there are solutions to help alleviate the symptoms.
Firstly, it’s important to understand what exactly happens to your body during a massage. Massage therapy involves putting pressure on certain parts of your body which can stimulate blood flow, release tension and promote relaxation. However, sometimes this process can trigger some unwanted reactions in your body such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue or muscle soreness.
There are several causes for these post-massage symptoms ranging from dehydration to stress or even allergies. Understanding the cause of your discomfort can help you find a solution to feel better afterwards.
“If you get massages frequently, figuring out the reasons behind your post-massage symptoms can make all the difference in how much you enjoy and benefit from each session.” -Massage Envy
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common causes of feeling sick after a massage, along with tips on how to avoid or manage these side effects. Whether you’re a regular massage-goer or just starting out, this information will help you get the most out of your massage sessions and leave you feeling rejuvenated instead of unwell.
Overstimulation of the Nervous System
Massage therapy is a popular form of relaxation and stress relief for many people. However, some individuals may experience feelings of sickness or discomfort after receiving a massage. This reaction can often be attributed to overstimulation of the nervous system.
Symptoms of Overstimulation
The symptoms of overstimulation following a massage can vary from person to person. The most common symptoms include:
- Muscle soreness
- Tingling sensations
If you experience any of these symptoms after a massage, it is important to communicate with your massage therapist immediately and seek medical attention if necessary. It is also recommended to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until symptoms subside.
Causes of Overstimulation
There are several causes of overstimulation of the nervous system following a massage:
“During a massage, pressure is applied to certain areas of the body, which can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for rest and digestion. In some cases, this stimulation may cause an imbalance that triggers a reaction in the sympathetic nervous system, causing feelings of nausea, dizziness, or tingling sensations.” -Dr. Brent Bauer, Mayo Clinic
In addition to pressure, other factors such as heat and aroma therapy can also contribute to overstimulation. Furthermore, underlying health conditions such as low blood sugar or dehydration can exacerbate symptoms and increase the likelihood of overstimulation occurring.
While not all instances of overstimulation can be prevented, there are measures that can decrease the likelihood of experiencing this reaction:
- Communicate with your massage therapist about any health concerns or pre-existing conditions.
- Drink plenty of water before and after your massage to stay hydrated.
- Avoid alcohol consumption prior to your massage session.
- Breathe deeply during your massage to regulate the breath and reduce anxiety.
If you have experienced overstimulation in the past, it may also be helpful to inform your massage therapist beforehand so they can modify their technique to better suit your needs.
While overstimulation of the nervous system following a massage can be uncomfortable, it is typically not dangerous and can often be avoided through proper communication with a qualified massage therapist. By taking preventative measures and being mindful of potential triggers, individuals can continue to reap the many benefits of massage therapy without negative side effects.
Release of Toxins from Muscle Tissues
Massage therapy is a popular treatment that many people often seek to reduce muscle tension, improve circulation, and promote relaxation. However, some individuals may experience symptoms of sickness or discomfort after getting a massage. One possible reason why you feel sick after a massage could be due to the release of toxins from muscle tissues.
Types of Toxins Released
During a massage, the therapist applies pressure and stretches your muscles, which can break down knots or adhesions that have formed in the tissue. This process causes metabolic waste products such as lactic acid, uric acid, and other cellular debris to be released from the muscle fibers into the bloodstream.
Additionally, deep tissue massage or trigger point therapy may cause micro-tears or damage to the muscle fibers, leading to the release of myoglobin, hemoglobin, and other proteins into the blood system. These substances can also contribute to feelings of sickness or discomfort after a massage session.
Effects of Toxins on the Body
The accumulation of toxins in the body can have negative effects on physical and mental health. The liver and kidneys are responsible for filtering out these waste substances from the bloodstream and eliminating them through urine or feces. However, when an excess amount of toxins is released during a massage, it can overload the body’s natural detoxification processes, leading to feelings of nausea, headache, fatigue, dizziness, or flu-like symptoms.
In addition, toxin buildup in the muscles can also impair muscle function, decrease range of motion, and increase pain and stiffness. Adverse reactions may occur most commonly among those with pre-existing medical conditions such as impaired kidney or liver function.
“Releasing large amounts of toxins overloads and burdens the body’s detoxification pathways and can cause significant health damage in some people.” – Dr. Darryl Roundy, ND
If you are experiencing any negative side effects after a massage session, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider. They may suggest simple remedies such as drinking plenty of water, avoiding alcohol or caffeine, rest, light exercise or gentle stretching, etc., to help flush out toxins from the body more efficiently.
While these symptoms can be uncomfortable or unpleasant, they usually do not last long and will eventually subside on their own within one to two days after the massage therapy. It is important to communicate regularly with your therapist during the session about pressure and pain levels to ensure you have a positive experience. Proper bodywork should not make you feel worse, so be sure to inform your therapist if you experience any unexpected sensations.
Why do I feel sick after a massage? The answer might lie in the release of toxins from muscle tissues. However, this reaction is normal and typically part of the healing process. With proper hydration, self-care, and communication with your therapist, you can minimize discomfort and optimize the benefits of your massage treatment.
Dehydration and Poor Hydration Habits
Many people may feel lightheaded or ill after a massage, and dehydration is one of the main reasons for this. When we don’t drink enough fluids throughout the day, our bodies can’t function properly.
According to experts, hydration plays a significant role in maintaining muscle health and preventing muscle soreness. Dehydration can also cause cramps, headaches, weakness, and fatigue. Muscle tension that comes from being dehydrated makes it difficult for even an experienced masseuse to relieve tension throughout the body.
To prevent these symptoms from occurring, it’s essential to stay well hydrated every day by consuming at least eight glasses of water daily. It’s important to remember that our bodies lose water through bodily processes such as breathing, sweating, urinating, and even crying. As such, replenishing those fluids lost regularly is vital.
Importance of Hydration During Massage
The significance of hydration during a massage cannot be overemphasized. Since massages involve rubbing muscles, applying pressure on joints, and stimulating circulation, the therapist will require adequate hydration levels to achieve optimal results. During a session, your therapist will use kneading motions and heat, which will further exacerbate muscle tautness if you are dehydrated.
While hydrating before a massage is crucial, continuing with the same habit post-massage helps flush out toxins and lactic acid buildup within muscles, leaving them healthy and revitalized. After getting a massage, taking care of oneself requires drinking plenty of water so that the lymphatic system can eliminate waste produced during the wellness treatment effectively.
In addition to that, proper hydration aids in reducing localized swelling, bruising, discomfort, inflammation, and overall stiffness caused by deep tissue massage therapy. This means that patients will recover faster, which can be beneficial for those who have muscle and joint pain after a workout or injury.
Signs of Dehydration During a Massage
If you feel sick or dizzy during a massage, this might be a sign that the body is dehydrated. These dehydration symptoms may include an elevated heart rate and fluctuations in blood pressure, headaches, dry mouth, or fatigue. If a therapist notices any of these signs, they will usually indicate the need for increased hydration among their patients. After noticing such signs, one can ask to drink water before continuing with the session rather than letting it end abruptly because of disagreement.
“It’s essential to stay on top of your hydration as staying hydrated allows our joints to be more lubricated leading to significantly less friction between bones and greater flexibility, says Dr Shereene Idriss in Women’s Health”
Being mindful of hydration levels before, during, and after massages are critical since dehydration may lead to unwanted side effects, feeling ill afterward being one of them. Drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day could alleviate some of the discomfort felt while receiving massages if not prevent it all together. Thus, making adequate water consumption a part of our daily routine ensures proper bodily functions even during physical therapy sessions such as massages.
Low Blood Sugar and Hunger Pangs
If you frequently experience hunger pangs during or after a massage, you may be suffering from low blood sugar. This condition is also known as hypoglycemia and can be caused by various factors, including skipping meals, eating too few carbohydrates, exercising excessively, or taking certain medications.
Effects of Low Blood Sugar on the Body
Low blood sugar can leave you feeling weak, lightheaded, and shaky. Additionally, it can cause blurred vision, headaches, mood swings, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. The severity of these symptoms depends on how low your blood sugar drops and how quickly it does so.
Mild cases of low blood sugar can usually be remedied with consuming some simple carbohydrates, such as fruit juice or crackers, to boost glucose levels. However, if left untreated, more serious side effects can develop, such as seizures, loss of consciousness, coma, or even irreversible brain damage in extreme cases.
Managing Hunger Pangs Before a Massage
If you’re planning a massage appointment, make sure to eat a healthy meal or snack beforehand that includes complex carbohydrates, protein, and fiber-rich foods. These will provide sustained energy for your muscles and help stabilize blood sugar levels throughout the session, preventing hunger-induced discomfort.
Avoiding sugary snacks and drinks before your massage is recommended as they can lead to sudden spikes in blood sugar followed by a rapid drop, leaving you feeling hungrier and potentially dizzy or nauseated during the session.
Managing Hunger Pangs During a Massage
“If you feel hungry during your massage, let your therapist know and ask if it’s possible to take a brief break to eat something. They will likely encourage you to step out of the room to eat a light snack, such as a granola bar or banana. This can help prevent your blood sugar levels from crashing and provide enough energy for you to enjoy the rest of your session.”
Additionally, taking deep breaths during your massage can help oxygenate your system, increase circulation throughout your body, and ward off feelings of lightheadedness or dizziness associated with low blood sugar.
Managing Hunger Pangs After a Massage
It’s important to hydrate after your massage, which can be achieved by drinking water or other non-caffeinated drinks like herbal tea or coconut water. Hydration helps flush out any toxins released during the massage and can also regulate blood sugar levels by avoiding thirst-triggered hunger pangs.
If you feel particularly hungry after your massage, consuming small portions of nutrient-dense food like bananas, hummus, or nuts can help stabilize glucose levels without overloading your digestive system post-massage. Avoiding refined carbohydrates and sugary snacks is also recommended as they can lead to further crashes in glucose levels and cause fatigue and headaches even several hours later.
Managing low blood sugar levels before, during, and after your massage is crucial in preventing uncomfortable symptoms like hunger pangs, dizziness, fatigue, and nausea. By adopting healthy eating habits, staying hydrated, communicating with your therapist, and choosing nourishing snacks, you can optimize your entire massage experience and leave feeling rejuvenated both physically and mentally.
Allergic Reactions to Massage Oils or Lotions
Common Allergens in Massage Products
If you are experiencing sickness after a massage, it could be due to an allergic reaction. There are common allergens in massage oils or lotions that can cause various symptoms.
- Fragrances – synthetic fragrances commonly used in massage products can trigger allergies and asthma attacks.
- Nut-based oils – some massage oils contain nut-based ingredients like almond oil, which can cause severe reactions for those with nut allergies.
- Balsam of Peru – this ingredient is found in many scented products and can cause allergic contact dermatitis, a type of rash.
- Cetearyl alcohol – sometimes added to give creams and lotions their thick texture, but can cause skin irritation for some people.
Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction
If you experience any of these symptoms after a massage, it’s possible you’re having an allergic reaction to one of the massage products:
- Rashes on the skin
- Itchy, red, swollen skin
- Coughing or wheezing
- Sneezing or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
If you have a history of sensitive skin or allergies, it’s important to let your massage therapist know before the session. They may be able to recommend alternative products or techniques to avoid triggering a reaction.
“Allergic reactions can range from mild to life-threatening, so it’s important to pay attention to your body and seek medical treatment if necessary.” -Dr. Julie McNairn
In some cases, allergies can be severe enough to cause anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include breathing difficulties, rapid heart rate, and swelling of the tongue or throat.
If you experience any of these symptoms after a massage, seek emergency medical attention right away.
Underlying Medical Conditions and Medications
Getting a massage can be a relaxing experience, but for some people, it can leave them feeling unwell. There are many underlying medical conditions and medications that may affect how your body responds to a massage.
Medical Conditions that May Affect Massage
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it’s important to let your massage therapist know before the session starts. Some conditions that may affect massage include:
- Pregnancy: Pregnant women should avoid certain types of massages and only receive treatment from therapists who are trained and authorized to work on pregnant women.
- Cancer: Patients with cancer should inform their therapist about their condition as well as any chemotherapy or radiation treatments they are receiving since this could impact which massage techniques can be safely used.
- Hypertension: If you suffer from high blood pressure, there are specific massage techniques and positions that can help lower your blood pressure. Working on certain areas of the body, such as the neck and shoulders, can also provide relief.
- Fibromyalgia: This chronic pain disorder is characterized by tender points on the body where certain amounts of pressure can cause discomfort. Because the symptoms of fibromyalgia often overlap those targeted by certain massage techniques, make sure to communicate with your therapist any tender points or over-sensitive areas so they can adjust accordingly.
- Muscular Dystrophy: Therapists working with patients with muscular dystrophy need to be super careful not to put too much strain on their muscles. They must ensure proper padding around bony prominences during trigger-point therapy and deep-tissue massages.
Medications that May Affect Massage
In addition to medical conditions, certain medications can also impact the way your body responds to massage. Here are a few examples of medications that may affect your experience:
- Blood thinners: If you take any medication that thins your blood, such as warfarin or aspirin, it might cause bruising or bleeding under pressure during a massage session. Patients on blood thinners should let their therapist know before beginning.
- Diabetes medications: Diabetic patients undergoing insulin therapy must be careful because their sugar levels might vary due to physical activity followed by resting during a massage.
- Allergy medications: Antihistamines and decongestants work to block the chemical reactions in your body that occur with allergic reactions, but they can also lead to feeling drowsy or sleepy, which is not ideal for remaining alert and present during your massage.
- Mood-altering medications: Anti-anxiety and anti-depression drugs can make the patient feel dizzy or disoriented after a massage since these meds already alter moods by interacting with particular chemicals in our brain
Precautions for Clients with Medical Conditions or Taking Medications
To ensure everyone’s safety and well-being, therapists always ask first-time clients to complete a health form detailing the types of medications they take and underlying medical conditions. They can then adjust their approach to the client accordingly. To have the best possible outcome from your massage if you have any kind of serious medical illness always talk with your doctor or physician first and explain why you want to have one done and ask them for advice and what type of massage they recommend
“People often assume that therapeutic massage will provide relief regardless of someone’s health history, but this isn’t necessarily accurate.” – Cathy Wong, ND
If you are taking medications that may interfere with a massage or have underlying medical conditions, the safest course of action is to talk to your healthcare provider first and get expert advice before scheduling an appointment. Your doctor or therapist will be happy to guide you through everything you need to know about massage therapy in relation to any existing health-related issues.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes post-massage sickness?
Post-massage sickness, also known as post-massage soreness and malaise, is caused by a variety of factors, including muscle soreness, dehydration, and the release of toxins from the muscles. The pressure applied during a massage can cause micro-tears in the muscle fibers, leading to soreness and stiffness. Additionally, the manipulation of the muscles can release toxins stored in the muscle tissue, causing a feeling of malaise and nausea.
Can certain medical conditions increase the likelihood of feeling sick after a massage?
Yes, certain medical conditions can increase the likelihood of feeling sick after a massage. Patients with certain autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, may experience a flare-up of their symptoms after a massage. Patients with fibromyalgia may also experience increased pain and discomfort after a massage. Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome may experience increased fatigue and malaise after a massage. Patients with a history of blood clots or other circulatory problems should also avoid deep tissue massage, as it can increase the risk of blood clots.
Are there specific types of massage that are more likely to cause post-massage sickness?
Deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, and sports massage are all types of massage that are more likely to cause post-massage soreness and malaise. These types of massage involve deep pressure and manipulation of the muscles, which can cause micro-tears in the muscle fibers and release toxins from the muscle tissue. Swedish massage, on the other hand, is a gentler form of massage that is less likely to cause post-massage soreness and malaise.
How long does post-massage sickness typically last?
Post-massage sickness typically lasts for 1-2 days. During this time, patients may experience muscle soreness, stiffness, and fatigue. They may also feel nauseous or generally unwell. However, these symptoms should gradually improve over the course of a day or two. Patients can speed up the recovery process by drinking plenty of water, resting, and avoiding strenuous exercise.
What can be done to prevent or alleviate post-massage sickness?
To prevent post-massage sickness, patients should drink plenty of water before and after their massage. They should also avoid eating a heavy meal before their massage, as this can cause nausea and indigestion. To alleviate post-massage sickness, patients can take a warm bath or shower, use a heating pad or ice pack on sore muscles, and take over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen. Gentle stretching and light exercise can also help to alleviate post-massage soreness and stiffness.