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I got a massage the other day and the next day my neck and shoulder area was very sore. Is massage supposed to hurt?

+1 vote
asked Jan 21, 2014 by anonymous

1 Answer

0 votes
It's actually very common to be sore the day after a massage, especially if you had deep tissue, a lot of stretching, or trigger point work.  And if you don't drink a lot of water the day of and the day after the massage, you are much more likely to experience soreness.  There is generally a pattern to after-massage soreness:  the day of the massage, you feel great, loose and relaxed and not at all sore.  1-2 days after, you wake up extremely sore, sometimes with flu-like achy joints on top of muscle soreness.  This generally lasts 1 day, although it may occasionally stretch to 2.  The NEXT day, day 3/4, you once again feel great.

My experience has been that extremely tight muscles or muscles that have been tight for an extended period of time tend to be sore the day after they relax, even if they are worked on relatively gently.  There are several theories on why this occurs, but not, to my knowledge, any hard data on the phenomenon. The dominant theory is that this is due to toxins built up in the muscle.

Here's the explanation:  When muscles are tight, they have decreased blood flow to them.  The tighter the muscle, the less blood flow.  With normal blood flow, the body clears away any toxins that are released as a result of muscle activity, but when the muscle gets tight and blood flow is reduced, the body cannot carry away all the toxins and some of them are left in the muscle.  They continue to build up as long as the muscle remains tight.

When you get a massage, the muscle relaxes and blood flow normalizes.  Blood rushes into the blood-starved tissue, the accumulated toxins are released into the system as a whole, and the circulatory system begins to clear them away.  This leads to a temporary overload of toxins in the system, which cause soreness and sometimes even flu-like symptoms.  This is why it's important to drink a LOT of water the day of and day after a massage; if you don't take in enough fluids, the body has a more difficult time with toxin removal and you feel crappier for longer.  It's also important to get up and move around, to keep circulation good and stimulate the lymphatic system.

So.  Next-day soreness is both common and normal.  The remedy is to drink lots of water and to get up and move around even though you're sore.  However, if you are sore for more than 2 days, or if you actually have a bruise, then you need to sit down with your massage therapist and discuss their use of pressure.
answered Feb 7, 2014 by Linda Endicott, L.M.T. (140 points)
All of which the previous individual said is correct, however as a licensed massage therapist in new jersey myself whom has been in the field for over 15 years as well as a massage instructor at a college this question arises frequently.  Yes you should drink plenty of water, pedialyte as well, but asa client should also mention to there therapist if the pressure being usex is to much for you, at thd same time the therapist should also convey tbe use of pressure being used asking a couple of times if the pressure is ok.
Don't be afraid to ask questions of your therapist nor feel embarrassed, uncomfortable to do so. I work with an array of people from housewives, amateur & professional athletes, college students to young adults & I always talk to them if I need to adjust my pressure.
Jim Jennerich
LMT, Holistic Sports Therapist, Clinical Hypnotherapist
It is not uncommon to be sore after a massage. Please keep in mind that when we manipulate tissue, we are breaking up stored toxins in the blood stream. I advise my clients for proper hydration to flush the broken down toxins out of their bodies. The stored toxins make the tissue sore. Breaking them down and feeling soreness afterward is the muscles holding on to the memory of the stored toxins. Generally this soreness does go away. Most of the people I work on want deep tissue and they understand the soreness and why they feel it. It is up to me as the therapist to educate them on the after effects and proper hydration of the massage.  Gina Bennett, LMT
All of the above therapist's comments are right on target and I agree soreness after a massage is normal. Hydration and movement are very important measures to help.
I would just like to add some insight to what has already been covered as a licensed massage therapist for 11 years and working with chiropractors for many of those years I have learned some added facts to the soreness.
After a massage I have had clients who tell me they were great the first couple of days after the massage but then the 3rd day they felt terrible with soreness and flu like symptoms. At first I was very puzzled by that but a colleague chiropractor told me that it also has to do with the brain processing. Each individual is different in the amount of time it takes their brain to process all the changes the therapist has told the body to make. It can take between 24 to 36 hours for each individual to process those changes thus the reason for delayed reactions to a massage. TSchroeder, LMT