You’ve just had a wonderful massage, and you go home feeling both relaxed and rejuvenated. But the next morning, you wake up with twinges of muscle soreness, maybe some fatigue, and you just don’t feel yourself. What happened? Chances are it’s the massage, and it’s perfectly OK.
“It’s very much like doing a workout. If the muscles aren’t used to it, they often respond with some soreness.” This should last for no more than two or three days. If it lasts longer, the massage may have been too intense, and the therapist should adjust for this in the next session. However, just as with exercise, when your body adjusts to having this type of workout, your physical response will also be less intense.
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.
So what else can you do to minimize sometimes painful side effects? 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. Everybody 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.
Lastly, 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. Drink plenty of water immediately following your treatment, and continue to do so for the next day or two. This will rehydrate your tissues and ease the effects. Take it easy after your massage. Go home, relax and just allow your body to find its balance naturally. Like exercise, make bodywork a habitual practice for good health. And if you wake up the next morning a little sore, it’s probably because you had a really good massage.