Why Am I Sore After a Massage?: Getting to Know How Massage Works
Have you ever received a massage from a therapist or a massage cushion, anticipating its stress-reducing benefits, only to feel pain or soreness later? Did you feel as if something was wrong with you and visit a doctor? Or did you think that perhaps the massage was done improperly and seek out a new masseuse?
The truth is, soreness after a massage is totally normal. Different people react differently to the intensity of a massage. There are a variety of reasons why the soreness or pain might occur and none of them are cause for alarm.
What Causes Soreness or Pain After a Massage?
There are several reasons why you might feel back pain or soreness after receiving a massage.
Your Muscles Aren’t Used to the Workout.
A proper massage is meant to work your muscles. Too much stress or too little exercise can build tension in your muscles, especially in your back and shoulders. A massage is intended to release this tension, so you can feel some relief.
However, like any other kind of workout, if you’re not used to the intensity of it, your muscles can protest at first. Normally, the soreness only lasts one or two days. Any longer than that may indicate a massage that was simply too intense.
Neurological sensitivity is also called sensitization. It concerns the input that the massage is providing to the central nervous system and the body’s response to that input. When the body has received more information than it can handle at one time, the result is pain, soreness, and other side effects.
This one relates to the above neurological sensitivity, but takes into account factors outside the massage. It considers the fact that you may be dealing with other stress triggers – whether they are spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical – at the time you receive the massage.
This means that the massage itself may not be causing the pain – not by itself, anyway. If you are worrying about things during the massage, that stress could be causing negative effects, and the intensity of the massage only adds to the problem.
This is the name for a minor muscle crush injury. It often occurs with a massage that is too intense and/or too fast. It causes too much protein to be released into the bloodstream, which makes you both sore and sick. (Read more about Rhabdomyolysis)
Is There Anything You Can Do About the Pain After a Massage?
So, now that you know what might be causing your pain and soreness after you get a massage, what now? Is there anything you can do? Should you make an appointment with your doctor or get a different kind of massage? Not necessarily.
There are a few steps you can take to minimize the pain after a massage:
Know Your Body.
The first step you should take is to consider how your body reacts to new stimuli. Do you often feel sore after you start a new workout? Does it take a while to go away? This will tell you a lot about how it reacts to a massage as well.
Be Clear About Your Expectations.
Set clear guidelines about what you expect from the massage. Then share these expectations with your masseuse or therapist. This will keep you on the same page.
Be Honest About Your Health.
If you have other health issues that are plaguing you at the moment, make sure to share them with your therapist. Additional stress from the massage could make health problems worse.
Discuss Options About Adjustments.
Once you and your therapist are agree on expectations and what’s best for your health, it’s time to discuss your options. This could mean making adjustments in intensity, technique, or length of the session.
Maintain Good Health.
Even if you are in the best of health, it’s important to maintain your health before, during, and after the massage. Get enough rest and eat regularly. This will help restore balance to your body and overcome the new input from the massage.
Keep Your Stress Level Low.
Don’t allow your mind to become cluttered with negative thoughts. This means easing anxiety before the massage, clearing your mind during the massage, and practicing a method of relaxation afterward, such as meditation or taking a soothing bath.
Dehydration can have a lot of negative effects on your body. It makes you feel sick and weak, which makes you susceptible to pain after a massage. Drink plenty of water before and after the massage, continuing to consciously drink water for a few days afterward.
8. Don’t Overdo It.
After the massage, make sure to rest and take it easy. Relax. Perhaps a long soak in the bath will help you heal and recover. This helps you eliminate the soreness and reap the benefits of the massage.
Above all else, be patient. Know that the soreness will likely go away in a day or two. Remember that not every massage will feel like this. The more your body gets used to it, the easier it will get and the better you will feel.
A Massage Can Be Wonderful Instead of Painful
A massage can release the built-up tension in back and shoulder muscles, but in some instances, it can also cause soreness and pain afterward. Your muscles may not be used to the workout, you may be experiencing neurological sensitivity, you may have incurred rhabdomyolysis, you may have suffered inflammation, or there may be other external triggers dragging you down. Fortunately, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Some action steps you should take to minimize the back pain after a massage are:
- You Might Want to Know: 6 Lesser Known Health Benefits of Hot Stone Massage Therapy.
- Be upfront with your therapist and yourself about your body’s reaction to the massage, your expectations going forward, and your current health issues.
- Discuss your options for adjustments to your massage treatments going forward.
- Keep yourself in good health.
- Keep your stress level low.
- Stay hydrated.
- Relax after the massage and take it easy.
- Be patient.
What has your experience been like with massages and after effects? Leave a comment below with your questions and stories!