Is massage therapy supposed to hurt?

Category: Health
Last updated on: 18/07/2018
Massage can hurt but it should not be too painful or last

When you are feeling stressed or exhausted, getting a masseuse to visit you at home for a massage sounds like a great idea, but could it hurt and make you feel worse? 

There are many different types of massage techniques. Few, if any, advocate hurting the client. Even the traditional Russian ‘Venik’ massage which is sometimes unfairly described as being “beaten with twigs” is quite gentle when correctly performed.

Certain massage types do of course have a stronger base level of pressure applied than others, with the most obvious example being Deep Tissue massage compared to classic Swedish massage. However, whichever type of treatment you book, the extent of pressure should be based primarily on the therapist’s assessment of the condition of your muscles and on direct feedback from you. This can be done both before your treatment and also continue throughout the session.


Pain Tolerance

When assessing whether a massage will hurt or why you may be hurting afterwards, a key factor is your personal tolerance to pain. The exact same pressure may feel too soft to one client and too painful for another. Pain tolerance levels vary widely from person to person, so the most reliable way for your therapist to get the depth of pressure exactly right, is to listen to you.

Sometimes customers feel ashamed to tell their therapist that the pressure is too strong and it is hurting. This can be especially true of male customers receiving a massage from a slender masseuse. Your therapist is not there to judge how 'strong' you are and will always be happy to adjust your massage to a softer, less painful, level. Never suffer in silence!

A great tip for achieving exactly the right level of pressure is to ask your therapist to perform a particular massage stroke at a relatively soft level and then repeat that same stroke over and over again, each time gradually increasing the pressure. As soon as you feel the right level of pressure is reached, ask your therapist to continue the rest of the massage using that point as the base level. Depending on which part of the body is being massaged, the force will be adjusted accordingly from that central level.


How painful is deep tissue massage?

It is quite likely that at some points during a deeper tissue massage session, most people will feel some pain or discomfort. This is quite normal. When your therapist works deeper into tight muscles to relax built up tension and release by-products of metabolic activity, it can hurt a little. However any pain should always be bearable. If you find yourself grimacing or your body contorting, let your therapist know immediately so that the strength can be reduced appropriately. Over time, as your muscles get used to massage and are more relaxed, you will find that you will be able to enjoy an even deeper massage.


Why does it hurt after a massage?

It is generally a good idea to drink lots of water and this is equally true after a deep tissue or sports massage. Deeper tissue treatments helps stimulate the movement of lactic acid from muscle tissues and drinking water ensures your bodies organs continue to work efficiently. Not drinking sufficient water may mean your body hurts more the next day. Just like exercising at the gym, having a massage aggravates your muscles into action which can result in a short period of pain for a day or two. During this time waste is being removed from your body and your muscles are realigning into to a better state. It's 'good' pain, as some people say.


Can having a massage make you ill?

It is highly unlikely, but you may feel like it. What you will be feeling is simply the process of waste removal from deep inside your muscles taking place. This happens naturally after a well applied deeper massage treatment and that process of waste removal may make you feel a bit unwell. This should not last more than 48 hours. Drinking plenty of water with some gentle activity can help speed up the recovery process.



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