Can a Massage Cause Diarrhea? Here’s What You Need to Know

A couples massage sounds like a wonderful experience with your partner but nothing takes the romance out of a relaxing spa trip more than having to sprint to the bathroom. Before you question how those two things relate and questioning can a massage cause diarrhea, we break it all down here.

Massages and Your Gut

We’ve all heard about the countless benefits of massage therapy when administered by a licensed massage therapist. Massages increase blood flow, promote blood circulation, reduce blood pressure, address muscle soreness and even alleviate chronic pain. But can massages cause diarrhea?

It’s difficult to imagine feeling anything other than bliss after leaving a massage appointment, but many individuals end their massage therapy session with a frantic run to the bathroom. Among all of the health benefits, massage triggers your stomach muscles and metabolic wastes, which can lead to an upset stomach. 

woman receiving a massage

Massage can stimulate bowel movements. This is due to the circulation of lymph, which aids your body in excreting toxic buildup. The more intense or lengthy the massage – such as a deep tissue massage – the more likely you are to find yourself scrambling for a toilet.

Diarrhea Following a Massage

Unfortunately, it’s been confirmed by massage therapists as well as physicians that massage indeed can actually lead to diarrhea. Although it’s not pretty, there is a scientific explanation for possible digestive tract upset following a massage. 

Lactic acid and uric acid both typically surround your muscles. During a massage, these acids are dispersed into the bloodstream. The body’s defense is to then excrete these unfamiliar compounds as quickly as possible, which can result in an unpleasant bathroom experience with accompanying abdominal pain. 

Massages also tend to relax the muscles of the stomach wall and the intestines, even when the stomach is not physically touched by your massage therapist. The repetitive flowing motion along your back and sides is enough to relax the muscles that house your digestive tract. This action can result in waste elimination. 

How Long Will the Diarrhea Keep Coming?

Good news: if your massage gives you diarrhea, chances are that it will only last for a short duration before symptoms subside. In rare cases, clients have experienced up to a week of diarrhea following a deep tissue massage. Those cases, however, are typically seen in overweight or unhealthy individuals that have higher toxicity levels. 

If you do find yourself suffering from diarrhea after a massage, there are some key steps that you can take in finding quick relief: 

  • Take an over the counter medication such as Imodium.
  • Place a warm water compress on your abdomen.
  • Eat bananas, rice, applesauce, or toast; these foods are all known to bind loose stool.
  • Drink plenty of water to replenish your body since diarrhea is dehydrating.

Benefits of Pooping After a Massage

While diarrhea and frequent bowel movements are certainly no fun, it’s also not fun to be constipated. Massage has proven to benefit the digestive tract, regulating bowel functions. 

Massage can correct constipation by relaxing the abdominal muscles. The stimulation releases toxins that need to quickly be excreted by the body. The fluid motion along your abdomen during a massage can result in the expulsion of gas and waste. This often alleviates symptoms of constipation. 

If you have been a long time sufferer of irritable bowel syndrome, a session of massage therapy  may be just the cure. A massage appointment can reduce both the stress that comes along with a bowel disorder, and the physical pain of the condition. 

Some individuals may have a blockage in their bowels that they were previously unaware of. These blockages can lead to abdominal bloating, upset stomach, slight pain and other uncomfortable symptoms. A massage therapy session can loosen up these blockages, resulting in relief you never knew you needed.

When blockages are expelled, the result is typically a quick onset of bowel contractions and diarrhea that can be both sudden and aggressive. This is your body’s way of excreting the waste particles that made up the mass. 

To answer our main question, “Can a massage cause diarrhea?”, the answer is yes, it definitely can. Pooping is good. Everybody poops. It’s important not to forget that the benefits of massage therapy can include cultivating a normal and healthy poop cycle. 

But What if I Have Poop Anxiety?

large clean public restroom

We’ll say it louder for the people in the back; poop anxiety is a genuine fear for many people. Many people are afraid of needing to have a bowel movement anywhere other than in the comfort of their own homes.

If you have concerns about the possibility of having diarrhea in public, follow these steps: 

  • Give yourself an at-home abdominal massage a few days prior to your spa massage.
  • Consume fiber rich foods to progress bowel elimination a couple of days prior to a massage.
  • Drink as much water as you can; it can help to flush the toxins from your body.
  • Try to poop prior to going to your massage therapy appointment.
  • Bring Poopouri to mask any potential bathroom smells and hope for the best.

The good news is that your massage is unlikely to be your massage therapist’s first time administering one. They are well aware of the effects that massage can have on the gastrointestinal tract.

If you are truly debilitated by potential diarrhea anxiety to the point that you won’t allow yourself to get a massage in fear of having to sprint for a toilet, opt for a home massager. Massages have countless benefits, so make sure to reap those rewards, even if it’s with a massage gun in the privacy of your own home. 

Bottom Line

We hope that this article not only educated you on the physiological reasons why some might experience diarrhea after a massage, but why this kind of bowel movement can actually be a good thing. 

We’ve also provided some helpful tips on how to minimize the chances of having to suddenly poop in public.  Whether it’s at the spa or in your home, both massage therapy and bowel movements are key components to a healthy lifestyle. 

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