Why Do I Feel Sick After a Massage?


We appreciate massages for their capacity to reduce stress and induce relaxation. However, what should be an enjoyable experience is sometimes marred by subsequent feelings of queasiness and lightheadedness. 

This phenomenon is nearly ubiquitous after massages, particularly those involving oils. Whether oils are employed or not, if the masseuse applies them directly to your body, there is often an aftermath.

For some individuals, post-massage nausea stems from a heightened sensitivity to touch and pressure in specific areas of their bodies. Many others experience queasiness or dizziness due to the release of toxins from their muscles, which typically go unnoticed until they are stimulated. 

In the subsequent discussion, we will explore seven prevalent reasons behind post-massage sickness and propose remedies to enhance your next massage experience, making it considerably more comfortable than before.

Is it a Common Occurrence to Experience Illness Following a Deep Tissue Massage?

Experiencing post-massage sickness is far from the norm. A conventional massage typically leaves you with a sense of relaxation and rejuvenation. However, the kind that triggers sickness afterward is the deep tissue massage. When selecting a massage style, it’s crucial to understand that various techniques exert distinct impacts on the body. 

Before stepping into the treatment room, prior knowledge of the massage type you’re about to receive is essential. Failing this, you might be undergoing a massage that induces illness due to excessive intensity, deviating from your intended choice.

Deep tissue massage constitutes a category of therapeutic touch that centers on applying significant pressure to muscles. It typically zeroes in on tense regions like the back, shoulders, and legs. This massage aims to untangle knots and alleviate muscle tightness, enhancing both functionality and blood circulation. 

While it undeniably achieves these aims, it’s not uncommon to leave you feeling under the weather. The reason is the extensive pressure and stretching integral to attaining the desired outcomes.

Consequently, this type of massage can frequently lead to considerable discomfort, particularly if you’re dealing with soreness or knots in the targeted zones. It might even induce mild pain and unease, especially if the therapist applies excessive force and delves excessively deep.

“Massage can exert significant demands on your muscle tissue, putting them through quite an arduous experience.”

Excessive intensity during a massage session can trigger sensations of unease within you. But why? 

  • The reason lies in the fact that when a massage is administered with excessive vigor, your muscles react by contracting. These contractions lead to tension, resulting in discomfort and pain as they exert pressure on the surrounding nerves. Therefore, a painless massage is synonymous with a relaxed one.
  • Should your massage therapist employ an overly forceful approach, the outcome might encompass muscle tension that escalates to the point of cramping. This serves as a compelling rationale for consistently expressing your preferred pressure level to the therapist. 
  • It’s worth acknowledging that each individual possesses a distinct threshold for muscle tolerance and a unique inclination towards pressure. Consequently, openly communicating your preferences to the therapist is highly advisable.

While a massage might superficially evoke images of relaxation and delight, the reality can be considerably more rigorous on your muscles. The massage procedure involves the application of substantial pressure onto your muscles and joints to unravel knots and adhesions that have formed over time. 

If you opt for a sports massage, the intensity is even more pronounced due to the accumulation of these knots and tension through sports activities. This is a pivotal reason why many athletes seek sports massages – to enhance their performance and avert injuries.

The massage therapist strategically employs notable pressure on your muscles to liberate the pent-up tension. This can, however, lead to sensations of discomfort and even pain in particularly tense muscles. 

Especially after periods of intense exercise or rigorous sports involvement, your muscles tend to become exceptionally taut. Massage serves to disintegrate this tautness, alleviating pain in the process. However, it’s worth noting that such a release of tension can sometimes evoke feelings of queasiness.

What Kinds of Unwanted Toxin Does Massage Help Expel?

Expunging “toxins,” compounds present in the body and bloodstream, occur through various routes such as:

  • Colon
  • Kidneys
  • Lungs
  • Liver
  • Sweat glands
  • Digestion

Here, the term “toxins” pertains to “harmful substances generated as a result of the metabolic processes within a living organism. These substances are typically volatile, significantly detrimental when introduced into tissues, and often capable of triggering immune responses.”

Nonetheless, as we’ve addressed earlier, it’s important to note that massage doesn’t directly release or eliminate toxins from the body. Instead, its impact lies in enhancing circulation, thereby facilitating the body’s intrinsic mechanisms for toxin elimination to function with greater efficacy.

Read this too: How to Massage Scar Tissue to Break it Down

Unveiling the Side Effects of Deep Tissue Massage

The primary after-effects of a deep tissue massage encompass:

  1. Headaches
  2. Nausea
  3. Pain and muscular tenderness
  4. Fatigue

Typically, these outcomes are minor in nature and don’t warrant undue concern, subsiding within a few days. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to exercise caution when dealing with new clients, ensuring they don’t belong to any of the subsequent categories. If they do, it’s advisable for them to consult a medical practitioner before undergoing a deep tissue or sports massage.

These categories include individuals who:

  1. Are dealing with cancer or undergoing cancer treatment
  2. Have experienced osteoporosis that has metastasized to the bones
  3. Are pregnant
  4. Have an open wound or any form of skin infection
  5. Have a history of blood clots or clotting disorders
  6. Are currently on blood-thinning medications
  7. Suffer from bleeding disorders

Reasons Why You May Feel Sick after a Massage

First, let’s understand how this kind of massage works. According to experts, a deep-tissue massage can lower heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and decrease stress hormones. At the same time, it helps the immune system, increases happiness with chemicals like endorphins and serotonin, and makes blood flow better.

When we look more closely at how the lymphatic system works, we find something interesting. One of its main jobs is to get rid of waste from the blood. This waste travels through the body’s lymph and gets cleaned by the liver and kidneys before being thrown out.

Here are the different kinds of reasons on why you may feel sick after a massage:

1. The massage was executed improperly

At times, incorrect massage techniques can lead to feelings of discomfort or nausea. For instance, if your masseuse applies pressure to your stomach, it might trigger queasiness, as that’s not the appropriate area for such manipulation. This variance occurs due to the unique nature of each person’s body. 

The masseuse’s approach can be universally effective, yet not everyone will experience positive outcomes. Consequently, even if you’re undergoing a massage designed for specific results, inaccuracies in execution could still induce feelings of illness.

In situations where the masseuse is new to the field or lacks experience, there’s a possibility of applying excessive pressure or missteps in technique. The applied pressure should ideally be sufficient to alleviate muscle knots and adhesions without causing pain or inducing nausea.

If you’re relatively new to massages, it’s advisable to communicate your pain tolerance to the masseuse to prevent them from going too deep. You can also request a lighter touch if the pressure feels excessive. Additionally, the masseuse’s hand placement might contribute to discomfort or nausea. For example, during a face-down massage, they could position their hands too high on your back or apply excessive pressure to your feet during a foot massage.

2. Your muscles have just undergone a substantial workout during the massage session

During a massage, your muscles are meant to unwind, yet sometimes they become tense. When this tension occurs, they are subjected to pressure, leading to discomfort and pain. Muscle strain is the result of this tension, and if you’ve just experienced a massage that left your muscles tense, it’s natural to feel unwell afterward, especially when dealing with painful knots in your muscles.

As previously mentioned, excessive pressure can bring about both pain and nausea. If your recent massage was particularly intense, your muscles might feel strained due to the heightened pressure applied. The resulting muscle soreness and strain from the massage can contribute to post-massage sickness, along with potential symptoms like muscle spasms and cramps.

The positions you’ve assumed during the massage could also be a reason for feeling sick afterward. For instance, if you spend an extended period lying face down on the massage table, it might induce feelings of nausea. The temporary blockage of blood flow to your head and brain can lead to sensations of dizziness, nausea, and lightheadedness.

3. The Masseuse Overdid the Pressure

An effective massage is intended to bring relaxation and a sense of well-being. However, if your masseuse uses excessive pressure, it could lead to feelings of nausea. This occurs because the force applied to your muscles is so intense that they become tense and achy. Your muscles end up strained due to the excessive pressure, resulting in sensations of sickness.

4. Massage-Induced Nausea Because the Toxins are Released

When your muscles harbor knots that are excruciating to the touch, lactic acid crystals have taken residence within them. These crystals form when your body generates energy from sugar in the absence of adequate oxygen. Overexertion without proper breathing during exercise can result in the accumulation of lactic acid. 

If these acid remnants go unutilized, they solidify into crystals due to lymphatic system inefficiencies. These crystals not only trigger pain in your muscles but also induce nausea upon pressure as they discharge toxins into your system. Toxins are potent substances that can provoke feelings of sickness.

Throughout a massage, your muscles are stimulated, releasing toxins in the process. These toxins are the culprits behind post-massage queasiness. Among the common toxins your muscles expel during a massage are lactic acid, ammonia, and carbon dioxide.

Hence, maintaining proper hydration by consuming ample water before and after your massage becomes pivotal. Adequate water intake aids in purging toxins from your muscles and kidneys. It’s also advisable to take a warm shower post-massage, facilitating the more efficient elimination of toxins from your muscles.

5. A sense of overall unease might be prevailing

Massages are typically designed to induce relaxation, but there are times when a general sense of discomfort takes over. It could be that the masseuse’s pressure isn’t quite right – either too much or too little, resulting in potential queasiness. 

Additionally, the recipient’s existing state of wellness might contribute to this unease. Waiting for complete recovery before getting a massage isn’t necessary; you can opt for a massage even when not fully well, provided the setting is clean and hygienic.

For some individuals, a feeling of unease might linger after a massage. Perhaps the session was prolonged, exceeding your comfort threshold. Discomfort could also arise if you had the massage on an empty stomach. To mitigate this, it’s advised to eat before the massage since lying face down with an empty stomach can provoke nausea.

In the case of a hot stone massage, discomfort could stem from excessively hot stones. While this technique offers various health benefits, overly hot stones might trigger sensations of sickness.

Guiding Through Post-Massage Nausea: Actions to Consider

Here are the actions to consider for navigating through post-massage nausea:

  1. Hydrate

Try drinking water, lots of water helps flush out toxins that might have been released during the massage. Staying hydrated can actually aid and remove feelings of queasiness.

  1. Rest

Give your body time to improve and adjust after the massage. Resting can help alleviate any discomfort, condition, or unease you might be experiencing. 

  1. Light Meals

Opt for light, easily digestible meals is recommended to avoid putting additional stress on your digestive system. This can help prevent exacerbating any nausea.

  1. Ginger

Ginger is known for its anti-nausea properties. Consuming ginger in the particular form of tea, ginger ale, or ginger supplements can help alleviate feelings of sickness.

  1. Deep Breathing

Engage in deep, slow breathing exercises. This can help calm your nervous system and alleviate any nausea or dizziness.

  1. Avoid Heavy Activities

Give yourself an hour break and avoid engaging in strenuous activities that might worsen your discomfort.

  1. Communicate with Your Therapist

Usually, if you experience post-massage nausea consistently, discuss it with your massage therapist. They might be able to adjust the massage technique or pressure to better suit your body’s response.

  1. Consult a Professional

If the post-massage nausea persists or is severe, consider consulting a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying issues. Otherwise, it will worsen the condition.

Remember, post-massage nausea is often temporary and can be managed with these actions. However, if it becomes a recurring problem, it’s important to seek appropriate guidance.

Furthermore, ensuring ample hydration before and after your appointment presents an evident solution to counter dehydration (and consequently, feelings of nausea). Additionally, Experts suggest indulging in sips of ginger tea and engaging in “deep breathing exercises and gentle stretches” post-massage to mitigate any hints of discomfort.

If, much like myself, you’ve encountered an unsettled stomach following what was meant to be a serene encounter, you might contemplate altering the type of massage therapy you opt for. So, you should get advice considering a gentle Swedish massage. This approach involves elongated gliding motions rather than the more intense pressure characteristic of deep-tissue techniques.  

Read also: How to Prepare for a Massage: Your Complete Guide

Leave a Comment