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Why Am I Sore After A Massage?

Why Am I Sore After A Massage?

Eyes open slowly, blinking periodically to adjust for a new day. A deep breath is taken while your limbs stretch out, and that’s when you feel it. It’s the day after your massage, and when you roll out of bed you wonder to yourself, “Did I work out yesterday? Did I lift weights in my sleep?” Your muscles feel a little sore, and some seem a bit swollen, almost like they’re bruised. You’re even a little more tired than usual.  You think that surely something must be wrong. This soreness couldn’t possibly be a result from your massage . . . could it? Didn’t you schedule your massage with the hope that your tight and tender spots would feel some relief afterwards? 

Before you reach for the phone to give your massage therapist an early morning, “What did you do to me?”  know that it is perfectly normal for your body to feel a little sore and out-of-whack the day after a massage, as counter-intuitive as it seems. For your muscles, getting a deep-tissue massage is similar to experiencing a tough workout. They got stretched and manipulated during the session, and the massage increased blood circulation to your tight spots. The lining of our muscles is supposed to be smooth, and work fluidly. When a certain group of muscles gets tight, strained or kinked, it becomes more rigid, and will rely on surrounding muscle areas to pitch in and help. During a massage, the therapist works to stretch, lengthen, and break up groups of muscles (commonly known as knots), possibly causing tiny micro tears in the muscle along the way. This is a normal function of massage, and while it leads to more blood flow and healing to that area, it can also lead to that day-after tenderness.  Also, if you happen to be dehydrated on the day of your massage, your muscle tissue will not be as pliable, and you will feel more soreness afterwards. 

If your muscles actually hurt more than they did before, and are not just tender to the touch, be sure to communicate this to your massage therapist before your next appointment. Perhaps a muscle was worked on too hard, too fast. Or, perhaps you are unknowingly tightening a group of muscles during a massage, anticipating pain. It can take some serious concentration to relax all of your muscles, and not doing so can result in varied muscle pain after a massage. 

After your massage that same day, there are some easy, pleasant things you can do to help prevent some of the next-day soreness:

  • Be purposeful about your water intake, both before and after your appointment. As mentioned above, hydrated muscles are more flexible. Also, there are some strongly-held beliefs that drinking water after a massage can help to flush away the toxins released by massage. Staying hydrated is never a bad idea, and after before or after a massage session is no different.
  • Do some gentle stretching that evening, paying special attention to your trouble spots that received the most attention during your massage. 
  • Take a warm bath, ideally with Epsom salts (1/2 cup to 1 cup for adults), and soak for 20-40 minutes. Epsom salts are an inexpensive and effective way to further help your body rid itself of toxins and reduce muscle inflammation. You also get the added bonus of absorbing the beneficial magnesium found in Epsom salts through your skin.

While having tender muscles is not exactly enjoyable, it is a natural, normal part of the journey of health and well-being that comes with taking care of yourself by receiving massages. As your body becomes accustomed to regular massages, you’ll experience the next-day soreness less frequently, making the experience that much more pleasurable.  If you are looking for a wonderful massage, contact your local Elements Massage.

Share your thoughts, leave a comment!

Comments (19)

Tina Peters on Aug 08, 2016
I always wondered why I was told to soak in Epsom salts. Now I know. Thanks!

Shawna Auger on Feb 01, 2017
I had my first massage today and I'm sore tonight. What does that mean? Should I go to the doctor first thing in the morning? There was a lot of tension in my back and neck. She said to me she has never had a client with so much tension. Anyway, I had a VERY relaxing massage. I got a Therapeutic massage which is a massage for relaxation, stress, and anxiety. She and I had a interview and she had said to me from what I told her and the way she felt my neck/back she told me I have had a lot of stress/anxiety. I have another appointment set up for next week Tuesday at 1:30. It is 1:30-3:00, an hour and a half. My massage therapist said to start with only an hour and then up it to an hour and a half, which today I saw her for an hour and then my next appt is an hour and a half. Thank you for your help!

Rose on Apr 17, 2017
I'm using a massager, for 2 days now. Did I go about it wrong? My muscles are tender on my shoulder neck area.

Tracie Rivers on Apr 24, 2017
Thank you so much for that information, I was wondering why I was so sore after my massage.

Zaida on Jun 13, 2017
Thank you. I, too, wondered why I am so sore. Appreciate the info. Thank you.

Michelle on Jun 15, 2017
Thank you for this. I had my second ever massage and it hurt - but felt good - and the following two days I was worried. I was certainly dehydrated and also had not moved my muscles in sometime in any full way. This explains what was going on.

Alexandra on Jul 21, 2017
I had a massage yesterday, not deep tissue apparently and I am bruised and sore, I am finding it difficult to move and swallow also.

Tamra on Jul 28, 2017
I just got a regular message tonight and I'm sore just like I was walking in and walking out .now my stomach under belly button lower stomach is very painful and can't even get up when I'm laying down what should i do

Michael Williams Blackmore on Aug 12, 2017
Why the hell are half of you asking what to do? If the pain is significant enough, got to the urgent care or general practitioner. This isn't about free medical advice.

Vicki Gamble on Sep 17, 2017
I had a deep massage on Thursday and I felt great that night and the next day and a half was good but today is Sunday and the muscles she worked on are aching. Is this normal? It was a vey deep hard massage! She said my muscles at the time of the massage were very tight!

Nancy on Oct 09, 2017
Should I wait a week before I go back to masseuse or go back right away. I was dehydrated. It has been three days and I still hurt. I also ha e fibromyalgia.

Bob on Jan 11, 2018
I have peripheral neuropathy. Had a massage around 6:30pm. Came home have a martini, went to bed around 9:30. Woke up feeling stiff and a little sore. Did I do something wrong?

A To Zen Therapies on Feb 19, 2018
I agree with you... :D awesome lens... thanks for share..

gail on Mar 07, 2018
I felt terrific after a massage with Abby but then hours later I felt as if my body was inflamed and very sore. I have been drinking water. Had to take Advil.
Not sure what this is about except what was written above.
The massage was great though!

Joe on May 29, 2018
Everything else was ok but don't push your toxins pseudoscience you nutters

Ronna Sabatoni on Jun 10, 2018
Taking bromelain, ginger and turmeric can also help reduce pain and swelling.

yasmin on Jul 01, 2018
Thanks you addressed my concerns, I was little dehydrated and should have drank more water before and after my massage
I also appreciate the tip about the epsom salts. I was also told to soak in green tea.

Katen on Sep 11, 2018
I love the feeling of sore muscles post massage...i know theyre not tight anymore

Josefa Thomas on Sep 21, 2018
I have shoulder pain after my massage is done.
It will take a few days to get out from the soreness.
Not sure if it is normal.