Feeling Like You Need a Treatment… for Your Treatment? Potential Side Effects of Massage Therapy



Feeling Like You Need a Treatment… for Your Treatment? Potential Side Effects of Massage Therapy

Deep tissue massages, chiropractic work, physical therapy — these methods repair and make the body well. And most of the millions who seek professional care benefit from these treatments.  

However, that’s not to say these methods don’t have side effects. Sometimes patients don’t feel as great after a massage, instead, they still feel discomfort. Why does this happen?

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage referred to as “Swedish massage,” is a form of massage therapy that intentionally targets muscle groups closest to your bones and/or joints. This is done to realign your muscles, relieving you of any built-up tension or pain.

Massage oils are often used, and therapists work to apply direct pressure with their hands to any and all affected areas. What’s good about this is that the therapist can reach these multiple layers of muscle fibres through slow movements and pressure.


Deep tissue treatments are best used for targeting lower back pain, muscle tightness in the legs, tense neck muscles, and upper back pain. Many of those with chronic muscle pain look to be treated with this massage.

Most Common Side Effects

While complaints of minor reactions to treatment are normal, some more serious and/or rare problems can occur. These are some of the varying risks in undergoing deep tissue massage.

Lingering Pain

Due to the pressurised techniques used in a deep tissue massage, some people have suffered from some version of pain during and/or after their therapy session.


While this may seem alarming, this symptom is actually fairly common, simply because of how massage treatments are done. The movement of muscle fibres causes the stimulation that can often lead to a state of pain.  

If the pain you experience lasts more than a few days, check with your therapist or general practitioner for further advice.

Muscle Aches or Fatigue

Naturally, your muscles are going to feel some soreness after a massage,  since this penetrates the uppermost layers of muscle. Muscles will then feel relaxed, potentially causing fatigue or muscle aches.


Again, any pain or discomfort felt after your appointment should only last a few days.


Experiencing a headache after your deep tissue massage isn’t as common as the previous side effects, yet they’re generally still not something to stress over.


Possible reasons for your head pain may be due to odd positioning of your head during the massage; an induced headache from other pain in the pressurised areas; or, if your neck or upper back was massaged. The muscles near your cranium getting a release of tension or pressure can create a headache.

Fatigue or Sleepiness

As a result of releasing tension, feeling tired or groggy can be a factor after your deep tissue massage.


Releasing tension in the body can reduce stress, whether physically, mentally, or both, yet these symptoms shouldn’t last longer than a good night’s rest after your session.


Inflammation can be a result of constant stimulation during the treatment. Otherwise, it can be a result of an older injury, poor performance from the therapist, or excessive pressure applied during therapy.


Inflammation, like other side effects, should be gone within a few days, but applying ice packs to the inflamed area or taking a low dose of pain relievers could help alleviate your condition.

Redness or Heat (Skin)

Seeing signs of redness or feeling heat is highly common, and typically isn’t serious.

Since this form of massage is intent on applying pressure, the result of this rubbing can cause such effects. Furthermore, the feeling of heat can actually be a good sign, showing muscles reacting positively to treatment and beginning to heal themselves.


While not considered an average response, nausea can sometimes occur after treatment as a release of toxins from your body.


Such release is normal, and drinking water to flush out toxins while resting/getting more sleep should eradicate any more issues.


If you’re seeking treatment from experienced professionals, bruising shouldn’t become a factor. Speaking honestly with your massage therapist about any pre-existing conditions (or simply your ability to bruise easily) should be discussed before further treatments.

If the bruising gets worse or lasts longer than a few days, seek help.

Aggravating an Older Injury

Relaying past injuries to your massage therapist is crucial for avoiding such side effects from past injuries. And, if you’re working with a professional, aggravations shouldn’t occur at all.
bruising after massage

Deep tissue massages and the pressure associated with the methods can stimulate old wounds, so communication is key. It’s highly important, if for no other reason than to reignite or create new injuries to yourself.

No matter what the side effects, the side effects impact of deep tissue massage should not last long, especially if you have a professional therapist. For any more serious or rare reactions, contact your doctor to have the necessary treatment.