The Real Reason Why You Feel Sick After Massage Treatments

You’ve just had a glorious, one-hour full-body deep-tissue massage. While it was a bit tender in spots, you’re feeling looser, lighter and ready to take on the world.

You can’t wait to see how strong and relaxed you’ll likely feel the next day. 

However, before tomorrow even rolls around – in fact, just as you’re on your way for a post-massage lunch – it hits you.

Nausea post-massage is actually fairly common, and although it doesn’t exactly help promote those rest and relaxation vibes that you had in mind, it’s a normal side effect of a procedure that affects a person’s entire body.

If you’ve ever wondered why you’re feeling sick after massage, we’ve gathered the info on why you might feel that way after massage therapy, and what you can do about it. 

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Feeling Sick After Massage: I’m Feeling Nauseous

Feeling sick after massage therapy is probably not what you were expecting or hoping after a ideally relaxing experience. While it’s not uncommon, it can, however, indicate that something else is going on in your body. It’s important to check in and figure out exactly what’s going on.  

Immediately After Massage

If you’re feeling sick as soon as you get off the massage table, then you’re probably experiencing postural hypotension, also known as orthostatic hypotension. This is a form of low blood pressure that can happen when you stand up suddenly after lying or sitting down. 

The feeling of nausea should subside shortly, but if it doesn’t, you should consult your doctor to ensure that there is no underlying medical issue.

We’ll dig into this more in a bit. 

Hours Or Days After Massage

While it’s certainly not everyone’s experience, massage therapists say nausea and other flu-like symptoms can come up – no pun intended — as a common side effect of massage in the hours and days that follow.

In some cases, clients who are feeling sick after a massage may even vomit and experience muscle aches.

While it’s unpleasant, these symptoms are often a sign that the massage was effective in doing one of its key tasks: removing metabolic waste from the muscle tissue via the lymph nodes. 

The lymphatic system, specifically lymphatic fluid, helps to carry waste and toxins (things like allergens, viruses and bacteria) away from soft tissue. This system helps carry the fluid along to the renal system. 

A thorough massage can accelerate metabolic waste removal, picking up waste that’s been lingering in your muscle tissues and dumping it quickly into your lymphatic system.

Here’s what causes post-massage sickness:

The massage speeds up your body’s processing of nutrients and oxygen by encouraging blood flow, which in turn takes water from your bloodstream. This decreases your blood volume, which is needed to help flush the toxins through your system. 

Without it, your immune system is left overwhelmed as it tries to process more metabolic waste than it was built for. 

Your body is basically being flooded by metabolic waste that was lying dormant, and they’re now working their way down to your renal system so that they can be flushed out (literally, down the toilet).

Whether you’d intended to sign up for a lymphatic drainage massage, a deep tissue massage, Swedish massage or otherwise, your massage therapist is going to be working your muscle tissue, which encourages lymphatic drainage. 

Feeling sick after massage sessions is more common with deep tissue massage

While nausea is a common side effect, we encourage you to discuss it and any other side effects with your massage therapist. 

Unless you’re a high-performance athlete or you suffer from an injury or chronic pain, experts recommend that you avoid deep tissue massages. You can opt for something with less pressure, like a Swedish massage. 

I’m Feeling Dizzy After My Massage Session

Another common complaint of those feeling sick after massage therapy is dizziness. We talked a bit about postural hypotension earlier. This is one reason you might feel dizzy after a massage

What exactly is postural hypotension? When you stand up, your blood heads south to your abdomen and legs, which decreases your blood pressure because there’s less blood pumping back into your heart.

Cells called baroreceptors that live near your heart and neck arteries are supposed to notice your lower blood pressure and tell your brain. Your brain is then supposed to tell your heart to work harder in pumping more blood. 

However, when something happens to interfere with this process, it takes longer for your blood pressure to stabilize.

There are a number of other reasons you may feel dizzy after a massage, and they include:

  • Dehydration 
  • Anemia 
  • Heart problems 
  • Prescription medications 
  • Eating disorders
  • Toxic shock syndrome
  • Emotional stress


Dehydration After Massage

pouring a glass of water

You probably already know the importance of drinking lots of water, but in terms of massage it’s especially important. You should drink water before and after your massage. Dehydration decreases blood volume, which can contribute to feelings of dizziness and/or nausea after massage.

To add fuel to the fire, massage causes dehydration, as water is essentially pumped out of your soft tissue and into the circulatory system. 

Mild dehydration can cause symptoms of postural hypotension, so ensuring that you drink water before and after your massage helps to keep your system moving, and minimizes the chances of feeling sick after massage sessions. 

If you’re feeling nauseous after your massage, water or ginger tea are both great for calming your stomach and for helping your body return to normal function.

Bottom Line: What Can I Do About Feeling Sick After Massage?

While most of us think of massage as an enjoyable experience, there are many ways it can be uncomfortable or even dangerous. 

That’s why it’s important to always be open and honest with your licensed massage therapist. Just like in physical therapy, licensed massage therapists are regulated by groups like the American Massage Therapy Association, which ensures that therapists meet mandatory requirements.

If you’re looking for at-home massage options or you want to combine at-home with RMT sessions, you can pick up a budget massage gun to help ease muscle pain and tension. Ask your massage therapist for options and ideas on how to use it effectively. 

A massage is a wonderful way to relax, destress, and loosen everything up, and yet, people are regularly left feeling sick after massage treatments. The best way to prepare yourself is really in being educated beforehand about what type of massage is best for you, as well as how your body functions and where it needs extra support. 

You can use massage to restore your body to its optimal health and balance, and with care can also safely enjoy some of its luxuriously relaxing moments in the process.

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