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Is It Normal to be Sore after a Massage?

female massaging her neck due to pain

If you ever haven’t had a massage before, you’re definitely in for a treat. If done correctly, it should be one of the most relaxing and therapeutic things you can do for your body, releasing the stress and creating more flexibility in the process.

However, you might also feel sore after getting a massage for the first.

Fortunately, soreness or pain after a massage is totally normal, especially if you received a really deep or intensive massage. The muscles that have normally been taut are now relaxed, and the body is having to adjust to the newfound freedom that they have. For people who are new to the process, even sitting in a shiatsu massage chair can produce pain.

There are three primary reasons why a person might feel sore after a massage.

1. The Therapist Worked Muscles that Haven’t Been Worked in a While

You know that sore feeling you get after trying out a new exercise machine at the gym (or the feeling you simply get from going to the gym, if you haven’t been in a while)? The same thing happens when you get a massage. Muscles that are normally dormant have become activated and your body is trying to adjust.

In many cases, this doesn’t even have to happen to a person who is “out of shape” – it can simply be the focused attention on muscles that aren’t used as much. Even something like a foot massager or a massage cushion can cause some degree of soreness.

2. You Were Tense During Your Massage

If this is your first time getting a massage, it makes sense that you would feel tense during the process. Or, more likely, when the therapist worked on some areas that you work constantly, your body tensed up. Because of that, when the therapist applied stress to the area, the effect was compounded.

What’s the secret? Try to relax and communicate to your therapist when something is wrong.

3. The Therapist Applied Too Much Pressure

In some cases, you might be feeling sore after a massage because the therapist was just too rough with you. Don’t worry, the feeling will go away soon enough, but if you feel a significant amount of pain during the massage, it’s wise to voice that to them. Nobody becomes a masseuse because they want to hurt clients, so telling them about your discomfort is as important to you as it is to them.

There’s no need to suffer through it either; if you’re experiencing neck or back pain after a massage, there are a few things that you can do.

Below are a few ways to help alleviate the pain after massage.

– Stretch: A few gentle stretches that hold the affected areas in a different position can be just what the body needs. While you don’t want to overdo it and make the pain worse, allow your body to stretch and adjust to the pressure that was recently applied.

– Drink Water: One of the benefits of a good deep tissue massage is the fact that it will release toxins from your body to eventually be flushed out of your system. However, you’ll want to make sure to drink plenty of water to replenish the fluids that are lost, otherwise, you’ll begin to feel sick and possibly cause cramping.

– Take a Warm Bath: Why not go from one relaxing experience to another? If you feel sore the day after a deep tissue massage (or any time you feel sore, for that matter) dip into a warm bath, preferably with some Epsom salts, to take away the pain and make your body relax. Not only will it relax your muscles, but you’ll also absorb some of the magnesium from the Epsom into your body, which will help with muscle contraction.

The good news is once you become a regular massage-goer, the feeling of soreness after a massage will steadily begin to go away. Your muscles will feel more relaxed, your body won’t tense up as much during the process, and you’ll begin to look forward to the experience. Still, remember to communicate your needs to the therapist before, during and after the massage. It’s the only way you’ll be able to get the treatment you need.

Paul Hickman