Can A Massage Make You Sick?

Have you ever wondered, “Can a massage make you sick?” If so, you’re not alone.

This question has been asked by many who have experienced unusual symptoms after a massage session.

In this article, we’ll delve into the science behind these occurrences, discuss why they happen, and provide you with practical tips to prevent them. 

Key Facts at a Glance

  • Feeling sick after a massage is not common, but it can happen.
  • This phenomenon is often linked to the release of toxins stimulated by the massage.
  • Dehydration can contribute to feelings of nausea after a massage.
  • Drinking water before and after a massage can help prevent post-massage sickness.
  • Lighter massages, like Swedish massage, may be a better option for those prone to post-massage sickness.

Now, let’s dive deeper into the world of massages. Massages are known for their relaxing and therapeutic benefits. They can reduce stress, alleviate muscle tension, and improve circulation.

But what happens when the soothing strokes of a massage lead to feelings of nausea or even sickness?

Is it a cause for concern? Or is it a normal part of the body’s response to a massage?

Let’s explore these questions together.

Understanding the Basics of Massage

To fully understand why some people might feel sick after a massage, we need to delve into what happens to your body during this process.

A massage, in its essence, involves the manipulation of your body’s soft tissues using varying degrees of pressure. 

For instance, a Swedish massage uses long, gentle strokes to relax the entire body, while a deep tissue massage applies more intense pressure to target deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue.

During a massage, your therapist works to stimulate blood circulation, promote lymphatic drainage, and relieve muscle tension.

This process can lead to the release of metabolic waste products that were previously trapped in your muscles.

While this is a normal and healthy process, it can sometimes lead to temporary discomfort, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Why Some People Feel Sick After a Massage

Now that we’ve covered the basics of massage, let’s delve into why some people might feel unwell after a session. It’s important to note that while these occurrences are relatively rare, they are not unheard of.

The key to understanding this lies in the lymphatic system. This network of tissues and organs helps rid the body of toxins, waste, and other unwanted materials.

During a massage, especially a deep tissue one, the lymphatic system is stimulated, leading to the release of these metabolic waste products.

Here’s what happens:

  • Release of Toxins: As your therapist applies pressure to your muscles, trapped toxins and metabolic waste products are released. These substances then enter the lymphatic system to be processed and eliminated from the body.
  • Increased Blood Flow: A massage also promotes increased blood circulation. This means that nutrients and oxygen are delivered more efficiently to your muscles, but it also means that the released toxins are transported more rapidly.
  • Dehydration: The process of eliminating these toxins requires water. If you’re not adequately hydrated before and after your massage, your body might struggle to process the sudden influx of toxins, leading to feelings of nausea or even dizziness.

So, feeling sick after a massage is often a sign that your body is trying to process and eliminate the toxins released during the session.

While this might be uncomfortable, it’s usually a temporary reaction.

In the next section, we’ll discuss some practical tips to prevent post-massage sickness and ensure a more enjoyable experience.

The Science Behind Feeling Sick After a Massage

During a massage, your therapist manipulates your soft tissue, including your muscles.

This process, particularly during a deep-tissue massage, stimulates the release of waste and toxins from the muscle tissue into your bloodstream. This is a normal part of the body’s process to eliminate waste, but it can sometimes lead to a feeling of nausea after a massage.

Massage stimulates the lymphatic system, which is responsible for draining waste, toxins, viruses, and bacteria from your body. This process, known as lymphatic drainage, can sometimes make you feel sick, especially if you’re dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water after a massage can help your body flush out the toxins and prevent you from feeling nauseous or dizzy.

The type of massage you receive can also influence how you feel afterwards. A Swedish massage, for example, uses lighter strokes and is less likely to leave you feeling sick compared to a deep tissue massage.

On the other hand, a sports massage, which targets specific areas of the body, can sometimes lead to feelings of nausea, especially if it’s your first time receiving this type of massage.

It’s also worth noting that the massage oil used during your session can sometimes contribute to feelings of nausea, especially if you have a sensitivity or allergy to certain ingredients. If you find yourself feeling sick after your massage, it might be worth discussing the type of oil used with your therapist.

Common Symptoms After a Massage

Having understood why some people might feel sick after a massage, let’s look at the common symptoms that can occur post-massage.

It’s important to remember that while these symptoms can be uncomfortable, they’re usually temporary and can be managed effectively.

  • Nausea: As we’ve discussed, the release of toxins during a massage can sometimes lead to feelings of nausea. This is especially likely if you’re dehydrated, as water is essential for processing and eliminating toxins.
  • Dizziness: This can occur due to a sudden drop in blood pressure, also known as postural hypotension. It’s more likely to happen if you stand up too quickly after your massage.
  • Headaches: These can occur after a massage, especially if your therapist has done a lot of deep work in the neck and shoulders. It’s also possible to experience a headache if you’re dehydrated.
  • Fatigue: It’s not uncommon to feel tired after a massage. This is because a massage can be both physically and emotionally relaxing, leading to a state of deep relaxation that can make you feel sleepy.
  • Muscle Soreness: Especially after a deep tissue massage, you might experience some muscle soreness, similar to what you might feel after a good workout. This is a normal response to the breaking down of muscle tension and should ease within a couple of days.

While these symptoms are generally harmless and temporary, it’s important to listen to your body.

In the next section, we’ll provide some tips on how to prevent these symptoms and ensure a more comfortable post-massage experience.

How to Prevent Feeling Sick After a Massage

As we’ve discussed already, feeling sick after a massage can be a natural response to the release of toxins, BUT  there are steps you can take to minimize discomfort and enhance your overall experience.

Here are some practical tips to prevent feeling sick after a massage:

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before and after your massage. This helps your body process and eliminate the toxins released during the massage and can significantly reduce feelings of nausea and dizziness.
  • Get Up Slowly: After your massage, take your time getting up. This can help prevent dizziness caused by a sudden change in blood pressure.
  • Rest and Relax: If possible, try to schedule your massage at a time when you can rest afterward. This can help your body recover and reduce feelings of fatigue or muscle soreness.
  • Communicate with Your Therapist: If you’ve previously felt sick after a massage, let your therapist know. They can adjust their techniques or suggest a different type of massage that might be better suited to you.
  • Consider Lighter Massages: If you’re prone to post-massage sickness, consider opting for a lighter massage, like a Swedish massage, which uses gentler strokes and less intense pressure.

Remember, every body is unique, and what works for one person might not work for another – it’s all about finding what works best for you and ensuring that your massage is a relaxing and beneficial experience. 

In the next section, we’ll discuss when it’s necessary to consult a doctor.

When to Consult a Doctor

While it’s normal to experience some discomfort after a massage, it’s crucial to know when to seek medical attention.

Here are some situations where you should consult a healthcare professional:

  • Persistent Symptoms: If your symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, or headaches persist for more than 24 hours after your massage, it’s a good idea to consult a doctor.
  • Severe Symptoms: If you experience severe symptoms like intense pain, extreme dizziness, or vomiting, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Underlying Health Conditions: If you have a pre-existing health condition, especially one related to the heart, circulation, or nervous system, consult your doctor before getting a massage.
  • Post-Massage Fever: A fever or chills after a massage could indicate an infection or an inflammatory response and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
  • Unexplained Bruising: While some tenderness is normal after a deep tissue massage, unexplained bruising or swelling could indicate an injury and should be checked by a doctor.

Remember, while massages are generally safe and beneficial, they’re not suitable for everyone.

Always listen to your body and don’t hesitate to seek professional advice if something doesn’t feel right. . 

In the next section, we’ll wrap up our discussion and provide a summary of the key points we’ve covered.


We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article, and we hope it has been helpful in answering the question, “Can a massage make you sick?” While it’s possible to experience some discomfort after a massage, it’s usually a temporary response to the release of toxins and can be managed effectively.

Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve discussed:

  • Massages stimulate the lymphatic system and can lead to the release of toxins, which can sometimes cause feelings of sickness.
  • Common symptoms after a massage include nausea, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, and muscle soreness.
  • Staying hydrated, getting up slowly, resting after the massage, communicating with your therapist, and considering lighter massages can help prevent post-massage sickness.
  • If symptoms persist, are severe, or if you have an underlying health condition, it’s important to consult a doctor.

Remember, the goal of any massage is to promote relaxation and well-being.

So, don’t let the fear of feeling sick deter you from enjoying the many benefits of massage therapy. With the right precautions and care, you can ensure a comfortable and beneficial massage experience.


For further reading and to verify the information provided in this article, you can visit the following authoritative sources:

  1. American Massage Therapy Association – A professional association for massage therapists providing resources and research on the benefits and effects of massage therapy.
  2. Mayo Clinic – Massage: Get in touch with its many benefits – An article from the Mayo Clinic, a renowned medical institution, discussing the various benefits of massage therapy.
  3. WebMD – Massage Therapy Styles and Health Benefits – WebMD provides a comprehensive guide on different styles of massage therapy and their respective health benefits.
  4. Harvard Health Publishing – The Health Benefits of Massage – An article from Harvard Health Publishing that discusses the health benefits of massage.
  5. Cleveland Clinic – 5 Things That May Surprise You About Massage – An article from the Cleveland Clinic that provides insights into the effects and benefits of massage.

Please note that while these sources provide valuable information, they should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider for any health concerns.

In the next section, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions related to this topic to further enhance your understanding. Stay tuned!

Frequently Asked Questions about Massage and Feeling Sick

Q: Can a massage make you sick?

A: It is possible to feel sick after a massage, though it is not common. Some people may feel dizzy, nauseous or experience flu-like symptoms after a massage treatment.

Q: Why do I feel sick after a massage?

A: There are several possible reasons why you may feel sick after a massage. One reason is that the massage can cause the release of toxins from the body. Another reason is that the lymphatic system may be drained during the massage, and this can make you feel sick. Also, dehydration can cause feelings of sickness.

Q: Is it normal to feel sick after a massage?

A: It is normal to feel a little sick after a massage, and this is a common side effect of massage treatments. If you are not used to regular massages, you may find that you feel a little icky or nauseous after your first few sessions, but this is nothing to worry about.

Q: What are the possible reasons why I feel sick after a deep tissue massage?

A: Deep tissue massages can release toxins from the body, which can make you feel ill. It is also possible that the lymphatic system is being drained during the massage, and this can cause feelings of sickness. Another possible reason is that you are not drinking enough fluids, which can lead to dehydration and feeling sick.

Q: Can getting sick after a massage be a common side effect?

A: Yes, feeling sick after a massage can be a common side effect, especially if your body is not used to regular massages. However, if you are feeling sick after every massage session, you should talk to your massage therapist about it.

Q: Can a massage also make you feel dizzy?

A: Yes, feeling dizzy is a possible side effect of massage treatments. This can happen if your blood pressure drops during the massage or if you are dehydrated. If you feel dizzy, it is important to sit down and drink some water.

Q: How can I avoid feeling sick or dizzy after a massage?

A: To avoid feeling sick or dizzy after a massage, it is important to drink plenty of water before and after your massage session. You should also avoid eating a large meal before your massage. If you are prone to dehydration, make sure to drink extra fluids after your massage.

Q: Why do toxins need to be released from the body during a massage?

A: Toxins can build up in the body from stress, pollution and unhealthy diets. By releasing these toxins during a massage, it can help improve your overall health and well-being.

Q: Are flu-like symptoms a common side effect of a massage?

A: Feeling flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, headache and muscle aches can be a side effect of a massage. This is often a sign that toxins are being released from the body.

Q: How are released toxins filtered from the body during a massage?

A: When toxins are released from the body during a massage, they are filtered through the liver and then excreted from the body as waste.