Why do muscles pop during massage?

Getting a massage can be one of the most relaxing and rejuvenating experiences for your body. However, sometimes you might hear a popping sound when getting a massage.

This might make you wonder what is happening and if it is normal. In this article, we will explore why muscles pop during massage and everything you need to know about it.

Some of the most common causes of ‘popping’ are: Gas bubbles, Synovial fluid and ligament/tendons.
Read on to find out how this all works!

What Causes the Popping Sound During Massage?

There are several reasons why you might hear a popping sound during a massage. Here are a few possible causes:

Gas Bubbles

One of the main reasons for hearing a popping sound during a massage is the release of gas bubbles. When you’re getting a massage, pressure is applied to your muscles and joints. This pressure can create small pockets of gas in the joints, which then get released.

Synovial Fluid

Another possible cause is the release of synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is a lubricating fluid that helps your joints move smoothly. When pressure is applied to a joint during a massage, it can cause the synovial fluid to expand and contract rapidly, creating a popping sound.

Ligaments and Tendons

Finally, a popping sound can also occur when ligaments or tendons move over bony structures. This is because these structures are lined with fluid-filled sacs called bursae. When pressure is applied, the bursae become compressed, causing a popping sound.

Check out this video below to hear what we’re talking about!

Is It Normal to Hear Pops During Massage?

Yes, it is completely normal to hear popping sounds during a massage.

As we discussed earlier, these sounds are caused by the release of gas, synovial fluid, or the movement of tendons and ligaments. In fact, hearing these sounds can actually be a good sign that the massage is working and your body is releasing tension.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Your Massage Therapist

If you’re feeling uneasy about the popping sounds or have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask your massage therapist. They can help reassure you and explain what is happening during the massage.

Other Treatments That May Help With Popping Muscles

If you experience popping sounds and discomfort during a massage, there are other treatments that can help relieve muscle tension and discomfort.

Massage therapists often recommend deep tissue massage to help with these issues.

You can also try other therapies such as chiropractic adjustments or stretching exercises to help relieve stiffness and discomfort.

What Is Actually Being Released When Muscles Pop?

When you hear a popping sound during a massage, it is not actually your bones cracking. Instead, the sound is a result of adhesions or knots being released.

Adhesions are bands of rigid tissue that can cause pain and discomfort. These adhesions can develop around muscles, tendons, and ligaments and limit your range of motion.

Relieve Pain and Discomfort

During a massage, the therapist applies pressure to the sore spots in your muscles, which can help break up these adhesions and relieve pain and discomfort.

This is why you might feel a little sore after a massage. However, this should subside in a day or two, and you should feel better overall.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is a massage technique that focuses on the deeper layers of muscle tissue. This technique can help break up adhesions and knots and relieve pain and discomfort. Your massage therapist may use their knuckles, elbows, or even their whole palm to apply pressure during this type of massage.

What Happens to Your Muscles During a Massage?

During a massage, your muscles and joints go through several changes. Here are a few things that happen:

Muscles and Tendons Loosen Up

Massage therapy helps loosen up tight muscles and tendons, which can relieve pain and reduce stiffness. This can help improve your range of motion and make it easier to move freely.

Increased Blood Flow and Oxygenation

When pressure is applied to your muscles during a massage, it helps increase blood flow and oxygenation to the area. This can help reduce inflammation, speed up healing, and improve overall function.

Breaking Down Scar Tissue and Adhesions

Massage therapy can also help break down scar tissue and adhesions that may have formed as a result of an injury or surgery. By breaking up this tissue, it can help reduce pain and improve flexibility and mobility.

Can You Stop Your Muscles From Popping During a Massage?

While it is normal to hear popping sounds during a massage, some people might find it uncomfortable or unsettling. Here are a few things you can do to minimize the popping sounds:

Avoid Inhibiting Movement During Therapeutic Massage

If you’re lying down during a massage, try to avoid tensing up your muscles or holding your breath. This can create more tension in your muscles and joints, which can make the popping sounds more pronounced.

Communicate With Your Massage Therapist

If you’re feeling uncomfortable during the massage or have any concerns, don’t hesitate to let your massage therapist know. They can help adjust the pressure or technique to make the massage more comfortable for you.

Q: Why do muscles pop during massage?

A: The popping or cracking sound that you may hear during a massage is actually a release of gas from the joint. This occurrence is known as joint popping or cavitation. It can happen when a joint is stretched or pulled, which causes the pressure inside the joint to change, allowing gas bubbles to escape, creating a popping or cracking sound.

Q: What are knots in the muscles?

A: Knots in your muscles, otherwise known as trigger points, are areas where muscle fibers have become tight and contracted, causing an area of tension and discomfort. They can be found in any area of the body, but are most commonly found in the back and shoulders.

Q: Does popping during massage help?

A: The popping or cracking sound that you may hear during a massage is not an indicator of whether or not the massage is effective. It simply indicates a release of gas from the joint. The effectiveness of a massage is determined by how well the therapist is able to manipulate and relax the soft tissues of the body, not by the presence or absence of joint popping.

Q: Can deep tissue massage cause muscle soreness?

A: Deep tissue massage involves the manipulation of deeper layers of soft tissue, which can sometimes cause muscle soreness or discomfort. This is a normal and expected reaction to the manipulation of the soft tissue and typically subsides within a few days.

Q: What is fascia?

A: Fascia is a connective tissue that surrounds and supports all of the structures in your body, including muscles, bones, organs, and nerves.

Q: Can cracking your back cause tendonitis?

A: The act of cracking your back does not directly cause tendonitis. However, overuse of certain joints can lead to inflammation and injury of the tendons, which is known as tendonitis.

Q: Is it safe for a massage therapist to pop my back?

A: A massage therapist should not intentionally “pop” your back or other joints. Manipulation of moveable or “synovial joints” is typically performed by a chiropractor, not a massage therapist.

Q: What is the difference between clicking and popping in the joints?

A: “Clicking” in the joints typically refers to a snapping or popping sound that occurs when a tendon or ligament moves over a bony prominence. “Popping” or “cracking” in the joints usually refers to a release of gas from the joint, as mentioned earlier.

Q: Should I be concerned if I don’t hear any popping or cracking sounds during my massage?

A: No, the absence of popping or cracking sounds during a massage is not a cause for concern. Not everyone experiences joint popping during a massage, and it is not an indicator of the effectiveness of the massage.

Q: Can the popping sound during a massage be harmful?

A: The popping sound that you may hear during a massage is not harmful. It is simply a release of gas from the joint, which is a normal and natural occurrence.

Q: What are the benefits of trigger point therapy?

A: Trigger point therapy is a form of deep tissue massage that targets specific areas of tension and discomfort in the soft tissues of the body. The benefits of trigger point therapy include relief of muscle soreness, increased flexibility and range of motion, improved circulation, and overall relaxation.

If you’re interested in learning more about massage therapy or related topics, check out some of our other posts including our epic guide to everything massage 🙂