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The massage experience is highly therapeutic for most, providing relaxation and pain relief by systematically manipulating soft tissues. However, some people can occasionally feel unwell or sick after a massage. While there is no need to panic, it is helpful to understand the answer of this question ‘can you feel sick after a massage?’ and ‘how to mitigate any discomfort’.
What is Massage?
Massage therapy uses various techniques to manually manipulate the body’s muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. The earliest records of massage date back to ancient China and Egypt over 3000 years ago. Over time, modalities like Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, sports massage and trigger point therapy emerged. The primary goals of massage include pain and stress relief, increased circulation, muscle relaxation, improved mobility and enhanced well-being. Targeted massage can provide relief from conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, headaches and anxiety.
How Massage Works
The physical effects of massage come from the mechanical manipulation of soft tissues. Massage techniques like effleurage, petrissage, friction, tapotement and vibration alter muscle fibres, increase blood flow, warm tissues and stimulate the nervous system. It releases lactic acid, enhances oxygenation and removes metabolic waste products. Massage also interacts with the parasympathetic nervous system to initiate the relaxation response and help re-establish the body’s homeostasis.
Related: Why Do Massages Make You Dehydrated
Common Temporary Side Effects
While massage offers tremendous benefits, some temporary side effects can sometimes occur:
– Muscle soreness from deep pressure or overworked tissues
– Fatigue due to the sedative effects of massage
– Lightheadedness following position changes
– Headache triggered by lying face down
– Nausea from pressure on the abdomen
– Stomach discomfort from manipulation of viscera
– Flushing of the skin from increased circulation
– Emotional release as muscles finally relax
These mild symptoms generally resolve within 24-48 hours after a massage.
Can You Feel Sick After a Massage?
There are a few reasons why massage may initially cause feelings of sickness or discomfort:
– Toxins released from tissues into circulation as muscle knots unwind
– Increase in blood flow and metabolites after stagnation
– Water loss through sweating induced by massage
– Activation of the vagus nerve slows heart rate
– Stress hormone changes as the body relaxes
This dysregulation generally stabilises as the body rebalances itself.
When Post-Massage Sickness May Indicate a Problem
While transitory side effects are common, more serious issues requiring medical attention include:
– Underlying conditions aggravated by massage pressure
– Injury from excessive pressure during massage
– Allergic reactions to massage oils, lotions or essential oils
– Dehydration or dangerously low blood pressure
If problems persist beyond 48 hours, it warrants medical evaluation.
Precautions to Prevent Feeling Sick
You can take some precautions to avoid feeling ill during or after massage:
– Be well-hydrated before and after the session
– Disclose any medical conditions or medications
– Avoid heavy, greasy meals a few hours prior
– Use minimal scented oils if sensitive or allergic
– Communicate your pressure preferences to the therapist
Related: Exercises To Stretch The Hamstring
Signs of Severe Post-Massage Issues
See a doctor promptly for:
– Severe and unexplained pain, swelling or bruising
– Tingling, loss of limb strength or changed sensation
– Chest pain, dizziness, fainting or shortness of breath
– Nausea or vomiting after massage
– Rash, hives or wheezing suggestive of an allergic reaction
– Fatigue lasting longer than 48 hours after massage
When to Call a Doctor After Massage
– Unusual or worsening pain, swelling or injury
– Tingling, numbness or loss of limb function
– Any rash, swelling or difficulty breathing
– Severe, persistent nausea, dizziness or headache
– If concerning symptoms last beyond two days
Do not hesitate to call your physician if any worrisome reaction develops after massage.
Recovering From a Challenging Massage Experience
If you feel unwell or sore after a less-than-ideal massage session, give your body time to recover with the following:
– Gentle movements like walking, light yoga or stretching
– Epsom salt baths to reduce muscle inflammation
– Light meals and electrolyte drinks to rehydrate
– Rest and self-care until the symptoms dissipate
– Stick to your limits more readily next time
With self-compassion and patience, you’ll feel back to normal soon.
Maximising the Benefits and Minimising Discomfort
To optimise your massage sessions:
– Set expectations and physical limitations beforehand
– Stay hydrated and get adequate rest
– Communicate clearly and assertively with your therapist
– Book follow-up appointments progressively rather than intensively
How to Continue Your Massage Practice Safely
Here are some tips for staying well in your ongoing massage regimen:
– Know when to avoid massage completely if very ill
– Refine your overall self-care routine around massage
– Learn your ideal pressure preferences
– Build trust and rapport with one consistent therapist
When to Try Massage Again After a Bad Experience
It’s reasonable to take a break and restart the massage when:
– Any acute symptoms have fully resolved
– You’ve discussed it with your doctor if needed
– You book with a new therapist if indicated
– After adjusting massage duration or pressure
The Benefits Are Well Worth It
While an occasional negative experience can occur, remember:
– Don’t let one disappointment permanently deter you
– Most side effects are mild and temporary
– The immense benefits of massage outweigh rare issues
– With proper care, massage is an invaluable healing tool
A Word From Blogzah
Massage is an extremely safe therapeutic intervention for most people. However, temporary side effects can sometimes occur, and more severe complications indicate medical evaluation. With proper precautions, communication and sensitivity to your body’s signals, the immense benefits of massage therapy can be enjoyed safely over the long term.