Side Effects Of Massage

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A few years back I had really bad neck pain from working 14 hours days for months, and out of desperation I went to 4 different masseuses in 5 days. The massage of the fourth masseuses was so excruciatingly painful I almost fainted, but it worked she fixed my neck pain. That got me wondering the side effects of massages are, so I decided to do some research.

What are the side effects of massage? Most of the side effects of massage are minor, such as: soreness, headaches, sleepiness, inflammation, nausea, fatigue, and malaise. Other more serious but extremely rare side effects could involve the aggravating pre-existing conditions such as: open wounds; fractured bones; lower blood sugar levels, and blood clots.

Side Effects Of Massage

Let’s dig a little deeper into the side effects you may experience after getting a massage.

  • Soreness. This mostly arises from more intense types of massages like deep tissue massages. The pressure can sometimes cause discomfort and inflammation, resulting in soreness that may last for two to three days.

  • Nausea. Massages help to release toxins from the body, which could result in you nausea after the massage. The body’s natural reaction to toxins is to flush them out and that's some may feel like vomiting after.

  • Headache. This might be due to the improper positioning of the head during the massage, or it can be induced by the pressure on the other parts of the body such as your neck or upper back. Sometimes when the muscles near your cranium release tension a headache forms.

  • Sleepiness. The release of tension and improved circulation (blood and oxygen) can cause you to feel sleepy during and after a massage. The more relaxed your body is the easier it is to fall asleep. Typically, the relaxation and improved sleep effects are short-lived (24 hours).

  • Inflammation. Deep tissue massage can sometimes cause inflammation of the muscles and tissues, which may results in tenderness and pain. This generally lasts up to a few days after the massage.
  • Redness. This is not a serious side-effect. It comes about as a result of continuous pressure and friction to the skin. If you have sensitive skin, the redness will be more noticable, but should go away within a few days.
  • Aggravating An Existing Injury. Massages should not be performed on areas with open wounds, abrasions or bruises. This only could it worse and might expose the injury or the wound to bacterias that cause infections.
  • Pre-existing Conditions. If you have pre-existing conditions see your doctor before getting a massage, especially of you have osteoporosis; are on blood thinners; have low blood platelet counts; and/or are pregnant.

Side Effects Of Shiatsu Massage

This Japanese form of massage therapy.

Shiatsu means finger pressure in Japanese.

It uses the principle of energy flow known as Ki or Qi.

They believe that the disrupting the flow of this energy causes illnesses.

Shiatsu massage unblocks these energy areas by pressing onto or stretching points on your body that lie along these energy lines, also known as the meridian channels.

This stimulates the circulation of blood; improves the hormonal system functions; and releases toxins.

It is used in the treatment of constipation; muscle aches; chemotherapy side effects; and skin problems.

Some of the side effects of the shiatsu massage include:   

  • headache
  • mild stiffness
  • fatigue

These side effects should get better within a few hours. If they don’t should contact  your massage therapist for further advice.

Side Effects Of Cupping Massage

Cupping massage is a type of massage that originated from China.

It involves placing inverted cups on your skin to create suction of the skin.

There are a number of benefits from cupping massage such as:

  • increases blood flow
  • release of muscle tension
  • promotes cell repair
  • pain relief
  • relieve headaches
  • Improve varicose veins
  • helps in the formation of new connective tissues and blood vessels

There are two types of cupping:

  • Dry Cupping. This is done by the suction method only.
  • Wet Cupping. This involves both suction and controlled medicinal bleeding.

Some therapists may place acupuncture needles onto the skin before placing the suction cup on top.

Some of the side effects associated with this type of massage include:

  • feeling lightheaded or dizzy during the treatment
  • sweating and nausea during the massage
  • the skin area around the rim of the cup may become irritated or bruised in a circular pattern
  • if there was an incision you may experience slight pain or bruising afterwards
  • there is a small risk of infection if the skin area is not cleaned properly before and after
  • scarring of the skin

The therapist should wear protective gear; be vaccinated against certain diseases like hepatitis;  and use clean equipment to prevent any infections.

Here are circumstances and situations when it’s not advised to try cupping massage:

  • children under 12 years old
  • during pregnancy
  • those with internal organs disorders
  • on your period
  • elderly people

Side Effects Of Deep Tissue Massage

This type of massage uses sometimes intense pressure to manipulate the deep layers of tissue in the body such as the fascia and other connective tissues that make up the muscles and the joints.

It is slower and firmer as compared to other types of massages.

It is used to relieve hypertension; fibromyalgia symptoms; leg pain; stress and anxiety; arthritis symptoms; and back pain.

The side effects of deep tissue massage include:

  • Lingering Pain. This is due to the amount of pressure used during the massage.
  • Headache. This might be caused by placing the head in an awkward angle during the massage.
  • Nausea. Massage improves blood and oxygen circulation, flushing out toxins. This might cause nausea.
  • Sleepiness. This is due to the relaxed muscles and released tension.
  • Inflammation. The pressure used may trigger inflammation of an aggravated area or an old injury.
  • Skin Rash/ Redness. This is due to the pressure applied and friction between the therapist’s hand and your skin.

All these side effects should be able to go away in a couple of days.

Massage Chair Side Effects

The massage chair provides basic massage strokes using electric vibrators.

If you don’t have one at home you may be able to get a chair massage at you local spa.

Like other massages, chair massages also help in relaxing muscles; lowering blood pressure; maintaining good posture; improving blood circulation; and reducing the pressure on the nerves by aligning the spine.

When used properly, massage chairs have no negative side effects. However, there are slight side effects from the improper and over-use of massage chairs.

Some of the side effects include:

  • bruising
  • pain
  • allergies to latex, rubber or other materials used
  • low blood sugar
  • fatigue
  • headache

Here are some factors to consider before buying or using your massage chair:

  • Massage chairs come within a certain weight range. Make sure to use one within your weight range for maximum benefits.
  • Massage chairs use electricity, so if you have cardiac conditions or epilepsy consult your doctor first before use.
  • If you have blood clotting; coagulation; or a blood thinning problem, consult your doctor before use.

Hot Stone Massage Side Effects

This massage method uses regular massage techniques plus placing hot stones on specific parts of the body.

The stones used are a type of volcanic rock known as basalt.

These stones retain heat, making them the best option for a hot stone massage.

White marble stones are used in cold stone massage to relieve swelling.

Some therapists hold the stones in their hands and use them to massage and apply pressure to the affected areas.

Some of the side effects from the hot stone massage are:

  • Burning Or Scalding. If the masseuse is not careful or inexperienced the stones may overheat leading to burns.
  • Bruised And Sore Skin. This happens especially to those with sensitive skin and/or low pain tolerance.
  • Pain Or Discomfort. Some people could find their pain is amplified after this type of massage.
  • Increased Sensitivity To Heat. The stones used are hot. This increase in temperature can lead to hot flushes, dizziness and/or headaches.
  • Increased Risk Of Infection. The stones’ contact with the skin during the massage may lead to sloughing off of the skin, exposing it to infectious agents such as bacteria and virus that cause infections.
  • Dehydration. The heat and massage movements increase blood flow to the surface of the skin. This results in more water being lost through the skin pores, causing dehydration which also causes headache and dizziness.
  • Nausea. Massages improve blood and oxygen circulation, flushing out toxins. This might cause nausea.
  • Increased Sweating. This is due to the increased temperature of the hot stones used during the massage.

You will want to check with your doc before getting a hot stone massage if you have diabetes, varicose veins, cellulitis, heart ailments, pregnancy, open wounds, and low platelet counts.

What Are The Side Effects Of Having A Massage During Pregnancy?

This is known as a pre-natal massage.

The roots of this practice can be traced back to 3,000 years ago as part of the ayurvedic medicine, as one of the natural techniques used to support the health of the mother and the baby.

It is performed after the first trimester of pregnancy.

It is gentler than most body massages.

Deep tissue pressure should never be used, instead Swedish style of massage should be used with pillows, bolsters, and other stuff to provide support for you and the baby.

A pre-natal massage helps in counteracting various issues associated with pregnancy such as back pain; lowering stress; reducing anxiety; balancing hormonal levels and improving circulation to prevent pregnancy-related Oedema.

This massage takes part on your back only, never on the abdomen area.

Possible problem areas like the feet can be kneaded to reduce pregnancy-induced feet swelling.

Every prenatal pregnancy is customised according to the mother’s specific needs and preferences.

Like any other massage, it comes with possible side effects that include:

  • dizziness
  • nausea

These side effects can be prevented by drinking at least 8 ounces of water, before and after the massage.

This helps in flushing additional toxins from your body.

Consult with your doctor before getting a prenatal massage if you have the following medical conditions:

  • hypertension that is not controlled with medication
  • congenital heart disease or preclampsia
  • recent injury or surgery
  • recent organ transplant
  • gestational diabetes

Make sure to use a licensed therapist, a pre-natal specialist if you can find one.

Side Effects Of Having A Massage After Pregnancy

This is also known as a post-natal massage.

It is a full body massage given to the mother after birth.

It has various beneficial effects such as:

  • It increases the blood flow to the muscles and tissues. This speeds up recovery, well being, and immunity.
  • The process of childbirth can strain your body especially the area around your abdomen, lower back and hips. Getting a massage after childbirth eases sore spots and relaxes muscle tension.
  • Reduces pregnancy induced oedema by stimulating the lymphatic drainage of excessive fluids and toxins.
  • It helps the body to release oxytocin, which triggers the production of milk in the breasts. You might leak during the massage, so keep your breastfeeding bra on.
  • It helps in dealing with post-partum depression by improving your mood and lowering stress levels.
  • It improves your skin by improving circulation, reduces stretch marks, and helps to soothe stretched tissue.
  • Improves posture, stability and coordination. The changes in pregnancy cause posture changes by weakening the core muscles. A post-partum massage helps to reverse this.

Some of its side effects include:

  • dizziness
  • nausea

These side effects can be prevented by drinking at least 8 ounces of water, before and after the massage.

This helps in flushing additional toxins from your body.

Consult with your doctor before getting a post-natal massage if you have the following medical conditions:

  • hypertension that is not controlled with medication
  • congenital heart disease or preeclampsia
  • recent injury or surgery
  • recent organ transplant
  • hernia

Make sure to use a licensed massage therapist for a smooth massage and maximum benefits

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at MindBodyPal is a team of experts led by Tyson Chiu. We love tacos, lattes and Funky Fridays.