Is It Normal to Feel Sore After a Massage?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2018
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Massage is an ancient form of bodywork which has been practiced in many cultures for centuries. People of many nations receive massage for relaxation and general health, as well as bodywork for specific issues. Especially after receiving deep work, it is not unusual to experience soreness after massage, although pain or soreness lasting more than one or two days may be a cause for concern. There are some things clients can do to reduce soreness after massage, if they are worried about it.

One of the major factors which causes soreness is the type of massage. Many types of massage are like a workout for the body, even when the client is lying still. Shiatsu and deep tissue, for example, involve extensive muscle manipulation which can result in soreness after massage because the body is unaccustomed to the sensation. Thai massage is another type of massage which may lead to soreness, because the body is flexed and stretched. If you are concerned about soreness after massage, you can ask a massage therapist about what you should expect after the massage.


Swedish massage, pregnancy massage, acupressure, and Lomi Lomi are some types of massage which are much less likely to result in soreness. All of these types of massage are very gentle and non-invasive. This is one of the reasons they are performed on people with disabilities, since they are less intense than deep work, and they still help to relax the body, promote circulation, and make someone feel more healthy. For people with compromised health, soreness after massage is not desired, so a more gentle type of bodywork is recommended.

A good massage will help to flush toxins out of the muscles. This can lead to soreness after massage, as the body works to express the toxins. Drinking lots of water before and immediately after a session can help reduce the feeling of soreness. It is also an excellent idea to get in the habit of drinking water regularly anyway, since water is generally beneficial for human health. Many massage therapists also recommend eating a healthy diet to keep the body in good shape.

Communicating with a massage therapist is also important if you want to reduce the probability of soreness after massage and get the most benefits from the session. Massage should not be painful, although it may be intense. If you experience pain during a massage, it will translate into soreness later. Make sure to outline your expectations for the session before you begin, and do not be afraid to speak out about pain. Every body is slightly different, and your feedback helps the massage therapist to adjust his or her technique for comfort and maximum effectiveness. Pain is not productive, since it causes tension during the session. This, in turn, will result in soreness after massage, because the muscles were not relaxed during the session.


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Post 15

I hope you can help. I had a deep tissue massage just under my underarm toward the back. It was painful and of course I was told I was very tight. No one had ever massaged me in that area so intensely. Well I was really sore the next 2 days. Soon after I notice my underarm and toward my breast was swollen, sore and sensitive. It feels like fluid is in there. I went to doctor and he didn't know what it was and referred my to orthopedic saying he thought it was muscular.

I'm wondering if that intense massage of that area on both sides, about 4 inches from the side of my breast could have caused some backup of lymph fluid or whatever goes on in that area. I really don't know where to turn.

Thank you for any advice.

Post 14

How often would you suggest? I have been getting massage once a month due to cost. Different therapists use different pressure, even when you ask for firm. I'm still feeling sore Sunday morning after a massage Friday evening. I always have two knots in my upper back/shoulders. This is only third time I have had soreness after a massage when therapist worked particularly hard. I'm just wondering how beneficial/necessary it is.

Post 13

I went to a Shiatsu place for a Swedish massage. The lady said she just didn't enjoy giving Swedish so she couldn't help herself and started doing deep tissue.

I'm on my fifth day of pain in my left jaw with a headache which starts in my left temple and not even Aleve will help. I don't think I ever want a "professional massage" again.

Post 12

I was getting a massage and the person found an air bubble in my lower shoulder. She pushed on it really hard and kept trying to work it out. It was very painful but I didn't say anything because I thought she knew what she was doing! I guess not (plus, I did as I was told and drank a lot of water for the past week, but I usually drink a lot of water anyway).

I am going on a week now and I am in the worst pain ever. I can't sleep because it feels like a knife is going in my shoulders leading up to my neck and it just so happens to be in the same

spot. She almost made a grown man scream trying to work the bubble out. I went back a week later on someone's recommendation. Of course, I used a different person and it still did not help. I have not been able to get a good night's rest in over a week and it constantly feels like I have a very painful and stiff lower shoulder and neck.
Post 11

I am an RMT and unfortunately, I have many clients on my table who wish for that type of massage (no pain, no gain).

I personally don't believe in this type of massage. There are times when I think a trigger point should be released yes, but to make the whole massage painful, no.

I use different approaches for releasing. It is hard to educate these clients because they figure they should feel pain for several days after, or they did not get their money's worth.

I wish more people stretched and came in more often for a massage. Most people maintain their cars better then their bodies. A car you can replace, the body you can't.

Post 9

I visited a sports massage therapist today. She went deep -- so deep that I spent 1.5 hours screaming in pain. Now I can barely walk. Massage should be used as a form of torture.

Post 7

I had a deep muscle acupressure massage at a chinese place yesterday, I am sure he used elbows, knees and heels. I am looking for some roadworks to borrow their roller to show the guy how I feel.

Post 6

As a massage therapist, treating clients with sports, holistic and deep tissue massage, I find it worrying that people are still suffering pain to a point of not functioning properly over 24 hours post treatment. Some treatments can create muscle aches and pains but this should certainly not be noticeable two days after a treatment.

Your therapist should be checking with you regarding the comfort of the pressure and monitoring your muscle contraction and breathing to ensure that they are not over doing it. There is certainly *no benefit* to massaging a muscle that has contracted because it is in so much pain.

Post 5

Releasing the muscle and working the 'junk' out of them sometimes causes discomfort - it happens to me all the time because I wait too long between massages! Drink a lot of water and try having a soak with epsom salt.

Post 4

I think the water idea is very good! I had a massage on Saturday morning (this is Monday night) and my pain has changed to a mild soreness. Sunday morning my calves were extremely sore almost to the point I couldn't walk. This morning, they were better but I still walked funny. I will say that several times during the massage the therapist discovered knots in my muscles, especially in my upper legs. I think the reality is that we all live in a very stressful and high-paced world. Sometimes it hurts a little to undo all the little damage (we do every day) that builds up over time. Also, soaking in a warm bath of epsom salt is wonderful too. Even though I was very sore, I'm glad I had the massage done. I wish I could afford them regularly.

Post 3

My husband had to deep tissue message, and after the fourth day he still can hardly walk. His back muscles are like bricks, hard, his physical therapist says due to all the meds he's been taking over the past 10 years or so, has caused protein and water to build up in those muscles.

He told me that if he or anyone suggest he go back, to "slap him".

Does it get better if he did go again after another two weeks?

Post 2

Please do not let this experience stop you from getting another Professional massage. All Massage Practitioners are different just like all people are different. Make sure the therapist is Licensed and or Ceritifed, ask them about their training. Don't be afraid to ask questions about what to expect during and after the massage. And if you are experiencing this type of pain during the massage you have every right to tell the Therapist to stop. I am sorry your experience was so terrible.

Post 1

i used a massage gift was the most painful thing since body feels like my skin was literally ripped off of my bones...i am part indian and i am beginning to think i have been the one!

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