Have you ever gotten a great massage only to have pain the next day? Pain after a massage can be a normal part of healing.
If you haven’t had a massage in a while, are brand new to massage or have a new issue that you are working on the chances are fairly high that you might experience some level of pain in the day or two following a massage. There are many explanations for this and though the experience and specifics will be unique to each person there are a few standard reasons on why this phenomenon happens:
Everyone has muscular patterns that have been created and reinforced over time and sometimes these patterns aren’t healthy resulting in inefficient ways of moving. The result is an overall imbalance with some muscles being tight and shortened while others are weak and overstretched. Eventually this can cause pain and/or injury as well as a sort of numbness. When massage begins to help release these unbalanced muscle patterns, the body has to adjust to a new and unfamiliar way of being, which can feel uncomfortable or even painful for a time. This is also the reason that regular massage combined with a self care plan is so important. As you might imagine it will take quite some time and effort to undo something that took so long to create.
Your massage therapist may move your body in a way that it is not accustomed to and just like a new exercise routine it can cause fatigue or soreness the following day or two. Staying active, hot baths with Epsom salts, ice therapy or heat therapy can help ease this type of discomfort as your body adjusts to these new feelings.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding detoxification and massage, I don’t want to add fuel to this debate in any way. I will stick to this: massage increases circulation and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which can sometimes cause an overload to your mind and body. Especially when it hasn’t experienced these sensations before, recently or if your body’s resources are going toward healing another issue such as an injury at the time of your massage. Drinking water, resting and taking care of yourself in general following a massage is important to lessening the possibility of fatigue or pain response.
Not all pain is created equal and it is always important to communicate with your massage therapist during your treatment. You should ask your therapist to lighten up on the pressure if you are experiencing pain during your massage that is sharp, shooting, numbing, tingling or 7+ on a pain scale of 1-10 (1 being very little to no pain and 10 being severe pain). You should always be able to breathe during your massage and if all your muscles are tensed against the pressure it defeats the purpose of trying to get tense muscles to let go. Good pain is ok but beyond that pain is not beneficial to your health. If you are experiencing sensations during or after a massage that seem abnormal you should communicate them to your therapist and if you think something is wrong it may be a good idea to check in with your doctor. In general there is nothing abnormal about experiencing a little pain after massage and it will likely stop happening after you begin to get regular treatments.