How To Relieve Pain After Massage – 10 Ways

Experiencing soreness after a massage is very common.

While a bit of discomfort is normal, excessive or prolonged pain is not. 

This article will explore why you may feel sore after a massage and provide tips on how to relieve post-massage soreness.

At a glance:

  • You can help relieve normal post-massage soreness in a number of ways: With rest, gentle stretching, hot/cold therapy, Epsom salt baths, pain relievers, hydration, and follow-up massages.
  • Massage therapy often causes mild muscle soreness afterward, especially deep tissue massage. This post-massage discomfort is normal.
  • Soreness after a massage session results from factors like increased circulation, muscle knot release, and inflammation reduction.
  • Excessive soreness that worsens or persists over 3 days may indicate a more serious issue requiring medical evaluation.

After getting a massage, it’s perfectly normal to feel some muscle soreness or tightness. This sore feeling is typically localized to specific areas of your body that received focused work during the massage treatment.

Soreness after a massage usually subsides within a day or two.

However, if you’re still feeling excessive muscle pain, discomfort, or stiffness for several days after your massage, there are things you can do to help relieve the pain – let’s find out what they are!

Why Do You Get Sore After a Massage?

There are a few key reasons why you may feel sore after receiving massage therapy:

  • The massage therapist applied strong pressure to targeted areas. Deep tissue massage and other types of deep pressure massage techniques can cause muscle soreness afterward.
  • Inflammation was reduced. Massage boosts blood circulation, which helps reduce inflammation in the tissues and muscles. This rush of new blood flow to the area can cause mild soreness.
  • Muscle knots were released. The massage loosened up tense, stiff muscles and worked out knots. This quick release of chronic muscle tension can make you feel sore afterward.
  • You’re not used to regular massages. If you rarely get massages, your body may need time to adjust to the effects. The more often you get massages, the less soreness you’ll typically feel.
  • Delayed onset muscle soreness. Just like after an intense workout, you may experience soreness a day or two after the massage as your body adjusts to the therapy.

Now that you understand some of the common reasons behind post-massage muscle soreness, here are tips to help relieve the pain and discomfort:

Muscle soreness after workout

10 Ways to Relieve Soreness After a Massage

  1. Rest – Make sure to take it easy after your massage and allow your body time to recover. Avoid strenuous exercise and just relax.
  2. Apply a cold compress – Use an ice pack or cold gel pack on the tender areas for 15-20 minutes several times a day to reduce inflammation and pain.
  3. Take an Epsom salt bath – Soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts to encourage muscle relaxation and decrease swelling.
  4. Do light stretching – Try some gentle stretches to work out the soreness and keep your muscles flexible. Avoid over-stretching.
  5. Use a heating pad – Apply a heating pad to sore muscles to boost blood flow and loosen up the tissues. Use for 10-15 minutes at a time.
  6. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever – Anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen can temporarily alleviate post-massage muscle soreness.
  7. Drink extra water – Staying hydrated can help reduce muscle pain, stiffness, and inflammation.
  8. Get a follow-up massage – Book another massage in a few days. The second massage can aid recovery and work out residual muscle tension. Inform your massage therapist that you are experiencing post-massage soreness so they can adjust pressure.
  9. Use essential oils – Rubbing sore muscles with essential oils like peppermint, eucalyptus, or lavender oil can promote relaxation and pain relief.
  10. Take a warm shower or bath – The heat from the water can relax tense muscles, increase blood flow, and ease achiness.

When to See a Doctor About Post-Massage Pain

While most post-massage muscle soreness is normal and should go away within a couple days, excessive or worsening pain after a massage may indicate an underlying issue.

See your doctor if you experience:

  • Severe pain that intensifies over time
  • Swelling, bruising, or redness
  • Joint pain or limited range of motion
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness
  • Headaches or dizziness after your massage
  • Muscle pain that persists for over 72 hours

These symptoms may signify inflammation, injury, or a more serious condition that requires medical evaluation.

It’s important to consult your physician to determine the cause of prolonged, severe pain after massage therapy.

Types of Massage Most Likely to Cause Soreness

Not all massages are created equal. Deep pressure massage techniques are more likely to make you sore compared to light, Swedish massage. Here are some specific types of massage that commonly lead to post-massage muscle soreness:

  • Deep Tissue Massage – Targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. The intense pressure often causes soreness afterward.
  • Sports Massage – Uses deep techniques to work out muscle tension and scar tissue common in athletes. Can cause delayed onset muscle soreness.
  • Trigger Point Therapy – Focuses on releasing tense muscle knots called trigger points. Soreness is common after treatment.
  • Myofascial Release – Works on releasing fascia restrictions. May cause aching as the fascia releases tension.
  • Reflexology – Applies pressure to reflex points on the feet, hands and ears. Can make the corresponding sore muscles sore afterward.

If you book any of these deeper massages, remember to take measures to relieve post-massage muscle soreness.

Lighter massages like Swedish massage are less likely to cause pain afterward. Discuss your preferences with your massage therapist.

When Is Post-Massage Soreness Normal?

It’s perfectly normal to feel some muscle soreness in the day or two following a massage, especially if you had a deep tissue treatment.

This sore feeling should dissipate within 72 hours.

Signs that post-massage soreness is normal include:

  • Mild muscle achiness localized to areas worked on during the massage
  • Soreness that starts 1-2 days after the massage and improves over 3 days
  • Manageable muscle soreness that allows you to function normally
  • No bruising, swelling or loss of range of motion
  • No severe or radiating pain

A little muscle tenderness is expected, but make sure to take action if the pain becomes debilitating.

Tips to Prevent Pain After Your Next Massage

You can take proactive steps before and during your massage to help minimize excessive post-massage soreness:

  • Communicate with your massage therapist – Let them know it’s your first massage or that you prefer light to moderate pressure. Speak up if the pressure is too intense.
  • Hydrate before and after – Drinking water helps flush out the byproducts of massage that contribute to soreness.
  • Avoid overexerting yourself after the massage – Take it easy to allow your body to adjust.
  • Schedule massages regularly – Your body will get used to it and adapt to the effects better.
  • Don’t wait until you’re injured to get a massage – Regular massages may help prevent future injuries.
  • Consider getting a hot stone massage – The heat helps muscles relax to better receive massage work without as much resulting soreness.

The Takeaway: Soreness After Massage is Normal, But There Are Ways to Find Relief

It’s very common to experience muscle soreness, tightness, or achiness after a massage. This post-massage discomfort is usually localized, mild, and goes away within a few days.

While a bit of soreness is normal, excessive and prolonged pain after massage therapy may indicate a problem. Seek medical guidance if your pain worsens or persists.

Muscles popping during massage

The good news is there are many self-care remedies you can use at home to alleviate post-massage soreness. Rest, stretch gently, hydrate, use hot/cold therapy, take baths, get follow-up massages, and take OTC pain relievers to manage any discomfort.

With the right techniques, you can continue to reap the incredible benefits of massage without having to suffer from debilitating after-effects. Use these tips to relieve soreness and stay comfortable after your next massage experience.


  • Mayo Clinic – Overview of muscle cramps, strains, and soreness from trusted source.
  • Cleveland Clinic – Article on massage therapy benefits and techniques from leading hospital system.
  • Arthritis Foundation – Non-profit arthritis foundation’s guide to massage for pain relief.
  • American Massage Therapy Association – Massage therapy association article on post-massage soreness.
  • Healthline – Medically-reviewed article on reducing muscle soreness and improving recovery.
  • Spine-Health – Overview of using massage therapy for lower back pain relief.
  • Hopkins Medicine – Article on massage benefits, precautions, and finding a therapist from Johns Hopkins.
  • PhysioWorks – Physical therapy clinic’s overview of loss of joint range of motion.
  • WebMD – Slideshow on exercising with sore muscles from well-known health website.

Q: How can I relieve pain after a massage?

A: There are several things you can do to relieve pain after a massage. One option is to apply cold therapy to the affected area. This can help reduce inflammation and numb the area to provide relief.

Another option is to rest after your massage and allow your body to recover.

It is also recommended to drink plenty of water to flush out toxins and stay hydrated. Additionally, you can try using heat therapy, such as a warm bath or heating pad, to relax your muscles and reduce pain.

Q: Why do I feel sore after a massage?

A: It is normal to feel sore after a massage, especially if you received deep tissue or remedial massage. Massage therapy works by applying pressure and manipulation to your muscles, which can cause temporary discomfort.

This is often referred to as post-massage soreness and it usually lasts for a day or two. It is a sign that your muscles are responding to the treatment and starting to heal.

Q: Is it normal to experience pain during a massage?

A: While it is common to experience some discomfort during certain massage techniques, such as deep tissue massage, it should never be unbearable or cause intense pain. Communication with your massage therapist is key to ensure your comfort during the session.

If you experience severe pain or discomfort, be sure to let your therapist know immediately so they can adjust the pressure or technique.

Q: How can I reduce pain and stiffness after a massage?

A: To reduce pain and stiffness after a massage, you can try different techniques. Applying heat therapy, such as using a heating pad or taking a warm shower, can help relax your muscles and alleviate discomfort.

Gentle stretches or light exercises can also help improve blood circulation and relieve stiffness. It’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard if you’re still feeling sore.

Q: What should I do if I feel sore after a massage?

A: If you feel sore after a massage, it is important to listen to your body and take care of yourself. Resting and allowing your body to recover is crucial. Avoid intense physical activities or workouts that could further strain your muscles.

If the soreness persists, you can try using cold therapy to reduce inflammation or consider alternative pain relief methods such as over-the-counter pain medications or topical creams.

Q: Is it normal to feel pain after a deep tissue massage?

A: It is not uncommon to feel some pain or discomfort after a deep tissue massage. Deep tissue massage targets the deeper layers of your muscles and can cause temporary soreness. However, the pain should not be severe or last more than a few days.

Q: Can a massage help if I have pain or discomfort?

A: Yes, a massage can help alleviate pain or discomfort in many cases. Massage therapy can assist in relaxing your muscles, improving blood circulation, and releasing tension. It can also promote the release of endorphins, which are natural pain relievers.

However, it is important to consult with your healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause of your pain before relying solely on massage for treatment.

Q: Is it normal to feel sore the next day after a massage?

A: Yes, it is normal to feel sore the next day after receiving a massage, especially if you had a deep tissue or intense massage session. This soreness is a result of your muscles responding to the manipulation and healing process.

It should subside within a day or two.

Q: What can I do if I haven’t had a massage yet and I am feeling sore?

A: If you haven’t had a massage yet but are feeling sore, there are a few things you can try. Applying cold therapy to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and numb the pain temporarily.

Resting and avoiding strenuous activities can also help your muscles recover. If the soreness persists or worsens, it may be advisable to seek medical advice to determine the underlying cause.

Q: Are there any benefits of a massage for post massage soreness?

A: Yes, there are several benefits of a massage for post-massage soreness.

Massage can help improve blood circulation, reduce inflammation, and promote relaxation, which can all contribute to relieving soreness. It can also help in releasing endorphins, which are natural pain relievers.

However, it is important to communicate with your massage therapist about your level of soreness so they can tailor the session accordingly.