A good massage can work wonders for your body and mind. Whether you’re feeling pain in your neck, back, arms or legs, there’s almost always an answer found through some form of applied pressure. Massages can also help reduce stress by lowering levels of cortisol, which is the main stress hormone the human body produces.

And while massages can undoubtedly be relaxing, they may occasionally leave your muscles feeling pretty sore. It’s totally normal, though, and nothing for you to worry about. Today, we’re taking a closer look as to why exactly that happens and what to do if you find yourself in that situation.

What a Massage Does to Your Body

When you are getting a massage, the applied pressure and friction help to promote blood and lymph flow throughout your muscles. This causes your blood vessels to become dilated, making them bigger, to increase flow and remove any waste products from your blood. 

When working out tight knots on your muscles, a massage therapist uses various palm, fingertip, and thumb compression techniques to increase the muscle’s temperature. This causes the muscle’s fibers to become soft, enabling any knots to be smoothed back into normal muscle alignment

The redirecting of the blood flow and smoothing out of knots can take its toll on your body, almost like an internal workout. The pain in your body is broken down and built back up to achieve relief. This process is the soreness you may feel after your massage.

How to Relieve Soreness After a Massage

After your body experiences a good massage, the faster your muscles can recover from any deep-tissue soreness, the better. This is especially crucial for athletes who depend on their bodies being in tip-top shape with minimal turnaround time. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an athlete to utilize the following tips on how to reduce the risk of pain after a massage:

Hydration

You should drink plenty of water both before and after your massage. This helps to flush out any toxins or acids that could be brought out while you’re being massaged.

Heat

Warming up your body in any way can help your muscles relax. A hot shower, warm bath, or (if you have the means) sitting in a sauna are excellent options to take advantage of. You can also apply a heating pad to any affected areas for 15 minutes at a time.

Cold

Utilizing an ice pack after a massage for 15 minutes at a time can help alleviate pain. Don’t have an ice pack? You can try soaking the soreness away in an ice bath, which also helps boost your blood flow.

Lotion

Applying some topical muscle rub ointment to any affected areas can help soothe and relax any aches or pains.

Stretching

Doing a few quick stretches after your massage helps release any tension, increase flexibility, and improve circulation. This also assists in reducing stress.

Herbs

Several herbal supplement options like turmeric, clove, ginger, garlic and black pepper can help stimulate muscle relaxation as well as lower inflammation. 

Rest

Be sure to rest after your massage and give your body some time to recharge. Try elevating your feet and legs with pillows for extra recovery ease.

How a Massage Gun Can Assist with Soreness

Another helpful way to deal with possibly severe muscle pain after a massage is to use a percussion massage gun upon any sore areas. A percussion massager is a handheld device that applies pulses of concentrated pressure deep into your muscle tissue. Should you be sore after a massage, the gun’s pressurized pounding works to stimulate blood flow and helps reduce inflammation. 

When used properly, a massage gun is an ideal tool for lessening any pain you may feel after a body massage. That said, there are a few key rules you must follow to ensure proper relief:

  • Do not apply the massage gun directly on any bones. Only use a percussion massage gun on your sore muscles because that is the part of your body it is safely designed for. 
  • You’ll notice that your massage gun will come with a variety of massage heads for different types of pressure. If you’re just doing a quick warm-up or cool-down recovery, use the ball attachment. For deeply massaging tight knots, use the fork (or U-shaped) attachment.
  • You should use your massage gun for a minimum of 15 seconds and a maximum of two minutes per muscle group.
  • To use your massage gun, simply press gently, but firmly, into the sore part of your muscle and move in a circular motion. If you’re in too much pain to do this, ask a friend or family member for help. 

By following these rules, you should be able to relieve any pain you feel after a massage. As an added benefit, you’ll also be promoting relaxation by easing the tight tension. Best of all, percussion massage guns come in a variety of price ranges from affordable standard models to pricier deluxe models.

Bottom Line

Yes, you can be sore after a massage, so don’t stress if you feel some pain after the massage is complete. With these tips in mind, you’ll be equipped to appease any possible pain, as well. Just keep the following in the back of your mind before your next massage:

  • During a massage, your muscles are subjected to various forms of pressure and friction to dilate your blood vessels to increase flow and remove waste from your blood. That is what usually causes you to be sore after the massage.
  • There are a number of helpful tips to bring into action should you experience painful muscles after a massage. From drinking plenty of water to icing and heating to stretching to a nice nap, you have plenty of easy options to pick from.
  • Never underestimate the stress- and pain-relieving properties of a percussion massage gun. It’s a wonderful way to really pinpoint sore spots and work out any extra tough knots.