Although it may have never happened to you before, it’s not uncommon to feel sore after massage. It’s particularly common if your muscles have been very tense or it’s been a while since you’ve experienced bodywork from a therapist.
Your muscles can sometimes react like you wouldn’t expect after having a massage. You may even have some bruising afterward!
So, what can you do to help yourself if you feel sore after massage?
Read on to find out why it may have happened, and the steps you can take to prevent it from happening again.
Sore After Massage? Here’s what To Do
Believe it or not, it’s actually quite normal to have some muscle soreness after you’ve had a massage. Sometimes you may not even feel it until a day or two has passed, much like what would happen after you’ve done a hard workout at the gym.
This is because during your treatment, muscles that you don’t usually use are manipulated, and they respond by becoming inflamed, especially if you have chronic muscle tension to begin with, or have a sedentary lifestyle.
Massaging methods that use strong manipulation to break down knots and tightness, such as sports massage, which helps to release injury and the inflammation associated with it, and deep tissue massage, can cause pain, sickness, and soreness in your body.
In addition, it is also possible that the massage therapist that administered your treatment worked too deep for your body. Remember, having a massage should be a relaxing and enjoyable experience. So if you are feeling unnecessary discomfort during your treatment, you should say something. Communication is key! Your therapist can adjust their technique.
If you are feeling unnecessary discomfort during your treatment, you should say something. Communication is key! Your therapist can adjust their technique.
Why Do Massages Hurt The Next Day?
If you feel fine just after your massage, but then find that a few hours later your muscles feel sore, this again is completely normal, and you have what is known as DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness.
Active people and athletes are more than aware of DOMS, which generally happens after heavy weight training and aerobic exertion. Think of that time when you went full beast mode in a Bodypump or Spin class, and couldn’t walk the next day — that’s DOMS, which can also happen after heavy muscle manipulation from a deep massage treatment.
It usually takes about 6 to 8 hours for DOMS to develop. This is why you can go to bed feeling fine, but find that it hurts to get out of bed the next morning. DOMS usually at around 72 hours in the most severe cases. So with adequate rest, you’ll be better in no time.
If you find that you are still feeling muscle soreness or body aches after three days and it hasn’t gotten any better, there’s a chance that something else is going on and you should get yourself checked out by a physician or chiropractor.
Later on in this blog post, I’ll share a few ways in which you can mitigate this situation so that you won’t have to suffer for too long.
Feeling Bruised After Massage
If you had knots in your muscles that the massage therapist was able to break down, then it is possible you may have some slight bruising afterward.
This happens because any areas of tension usually have inflammation, and when the knots are dissolved, the fluid that was built up, which can include stagnant blood and lymph, will start to be flushed out of your system.
Although it’s not very common, it is completely normal and nothing to worry about. It’s just a healing response to the deep tissue being manipulated.
However, if you have bruising after a light-touch massage, such as Swedish or hot stones, then this could indicate a problem that you should consult your physician about.
Can You Over Massage A Tense Muscle?
It’s not common to over-massage a muscle. Basically, you shouldn’t have a treatment more than a couple of times a week unless you are being treated for a sports injury, for example.
Also, if you have a muscle with a deep knot, then it would be much more beneficial to do some very gentle stretching, instead of massaging it to release some of the tension. You can also treat the area with alternating temperatures, using ice packs and heating pads.
If you have a muscle with a deep knot, then it would be much more beneficial to do some very gentle stretching, instead of massaging it to release some of the tension. You can also treat the area with alternating temperatures, using ice packs and heating pads.
It is possible, although extremely rare, that if you have a deep tissue massage where excessive pressure has been applied, it can cause a condition called rhabdomyolysis, or more commonly rhabdo.
Rhabdo is a potentially fatal condition that is caused by a breakdown in the muscle tissue, which results in electrolytes and proteins being released into the bloodstream. This affects the kidneys, and can even damage the heart.
However, this is extremely rare, so you shouldn’t worry about it.
It’s also a possibility, although again it’s not a common occurrence, that over-massaging a muscle causes some nerve damage, which can take some time to heal.
How To Relieve Pain After A Massage
If you’ve ever experienced pain or body aches after having a massage, then you’ll be pleased to hear that there are a few things that you can do in order for this not to happen again the next time you get up from the massage table.
1. Drink Water
For starters, make sure that you’re well hydrated. So, have some water beforehand. But even if you don’t, you should definitely take that drink that your massage therapist offers you when your treatment has finished.
Though there is much talk of “toxins” being released after the massage, there’s little evidence this happens. Still, muscle soreness can be relieved by drinking water and staying hydrated. Click here to read blog, Drinking Water After A Massage for more information.
After you’ve had a drink, you could also do some gentle stretching, just like you would after finishing a hard workout. Stretching has been proven to decrease muscle soreness, and can help to maintain the blood flow to your muscles that have been generated during your treatment.
3. Warm Bath
When you get back home, you may want to take a warm bath in some Epsom or Himalayan salt, both of which contain minerals like magnesium, which will soothe any sore muscles. In addition, using essential oils, like peppermint or eucalyptus, blended in a carrier oil and rubbed on your sore areas will help to release some pain.
Finally, take time to give your body some adequate rest, which is something many people find difficult to do, because of our busy lives.
Perhaps it has come time to try meditation, if you don’t already do so. There are many apps available to download that can help you to visualize your muscles relaxing and healing.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are sore after a massage, then you now have a few options that can help you to relieve the pain, including keeping well hydrated, and having enough rest.
Having a massage is usually a pleasant and relaxing experience, and with this information, the next time you lay on your therapist’s table, you can enjoy the benefits as you should.