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Are Massages Painful? How to Find the Right Massage for You

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For many of us, pain can be a regular part of our lives. Whether it’s chronic shoulder pain keeping you from lifting heavy objects or a more acute broken bone that needs to heal, pain management is a critical step in improving your quality of life. But what if the standard medications, exercise, and physical therapy aren’t working? For thousands (if not millions) of people, massage therapy can provide a much-needed alternative that’s not just effective but also deeply relaxing.


In this post, we’ll explore how to find the right massage to provide relief from all kinds of pain, as well as the kinds of issues this approach can best address. From sumptuous Swedish massage to the Vietnamese-inspired philosophy behind tuina, let’s dive into the world of therapeutic massage for a complete guide to finding the relaxation, comfort, and relief you need.

What Causes Pain During Massage?

Pain during massage usually arises from the application of deep, kneading techniques aimed at releasing underlying tensions and tightness from the muscles. Depending on how long these tensions have been held in the body, it is not unusual to feel a mild level of discomfort during treatment – but this should only last momentarily and eventually ease into a feeling of relaxation as the muscles are able to release their built-up tension.


It’s also possible to experience soreness after a massage, particularly if you’re new to such treatments or haven’t had one for some time. This is due to lactic acid being released into the surrounding tissues, creating an area that can be sensitive when touched. This reaction may cause more pressing sensations than usual but should subside within a few hours.

The Benefits of Massage

The benefits of massage are extensive and include physical, psychological, and emotional relief. Physically, massage can reduce muscular tension, ease joint pain and promote circulation, which can help with the recovery process after an injury. Massage can also significantly reduce stress hormones in our bodies and boost feel-good hormones such as serotonin and endorphins. Psychological studies have shown massage improves sleep quality, reduces anxiety, and boosts feelings of relaxation. When it comes to emotions, massage has been found to reduce depression symptoms.


There is also a school of thought that believes massage has drawbacks; too much pressure can cause strain or increase inflammation, leading to further pain. That’s why it is important to find a massage therapist who knows how to read your body and applies the right amount of pressure to your individual needs.

Stress and Tension Relief

Stress and tension are two mental and physical components of pain that massage can greatly reduce. Stress is the psychological reaction to life’s demands, while tension results in the physical effects of muscle tightness, pain, and fatigue. Massage has been shown to decrease cortisol levels, the primary stress hormone released in response to stressful situations, which can lead to an overall feeling of relaxation and well-being. Additionally, the manipulation of muscles as performed during a massage treatment can provide relief from chronic muscle tension, as well as pain associated with it.

Increase in Muscle Mobility

Massage is gaining traction as an effective treatment for reducing pain, while also increasing muscle mobility. This can help those with physical impairments by helping to reduce swelling and promoting more natural joint ranges of motion. Massage is believed to encourage oxygen and nutrient flow to muscles, which enhances the production of neurotransmitters that help promote healing and body soft tissue flexibility. Recent studies have shown that regular massage treatments lead to an increased range of motion by affecting both the endocrine and neurological systems.

Types of Massage for Painful Areas

When it comes to reducing pain in specific areas of the body, there are many types of massage available to help. From Swedish massages and trigger point therapy to myofascial massage, each approach has its own benefits for targeting painful areas. Deciding which type of massage is right for you will depend on your particular needs and preferences as well as the therapist’s experience and abilities.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is great for overall relaxation and light relief of pain. The main purpose is to relax muscles that are tight or knotted due to stress or exercise. During a session, a therapist may incorporate kneading, percussion-like taps (called tapping or tapotement), friction strokes, and long smooth strokes known as effleurage.

Trigger Point Massage

This massage works to reduce tension in specific areas by concentrating on tight knots or ‘trigger points.’ During a session, a therapist utilizes direct pressure applied directly to the trigger points, often resulting in localized relief from chronic pain. This technique can be uncomfortable but ultimately relieves those afflicted with chronic muscle pain and tension.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage is a therapeutic technique designed to reach and relax the deeper layers of muscle and fascia in the body. This type of massage can be beneficial for releasing chronic tension, addressing muscle spasms caused by injury, and providing relief from chronic pain. Deep tissue massage usually involves more intense pressure than other massage techniques, making it a good choice for those seeking to manage pain on a deeper level.


Each type of massage should be utilized differently depending on what goals a person wants to achieve — whether it be general relaxation or providing relief from pain — choosing the right type is key to achieving results. Ultimately, deciding which type is best will depend on your particular needs and preferences as well as the therapist’s experience and abilities.

How to Find a Qualified Massage Therapist

Finding a qualified massage therapist is essential in order to get the most out of your massage session. With the rise in popularity of massage therapy as a whole, there are several ways for individuals to access massage services in their area. As with any type of healthcare provider, it’s important to make sure that you find the right fit for your needs and preferences.

The best way to know whether or not a potential massage therapist is qualified is to inquire about their credentials. Most states require licensed massage therapists to have extensive training and experience before they are able to practice professionally. Many states also require continuing education courses in order to maintain licensure, so it’s important to ensure that the therapist you choose has completed all necessary coursework and passed all exams in order to remain legally practicing. You can check with your health insurance company or local health department for more information on licensing requirements in your area.


Massages can often be uncomfortable or painful, especially when they involve deep tissue work. The massage pressure can sometimes cause your muscles and tissues discomfort, so it is essential to communicate with your therapist if you are feeling any pain. This way they can regulate their technique accordingly to minimize the soreness for a more comforting experience. Though post-massage soreness is typical and does not indicate harm or injury, be aware that it may take up to two weeks for the uncomfortable sensation in some cases.


Fortunately, this tenderness usually dissipates within several days! To maximize the therapeutic benefits of your massage, it is important to drink plenty of water afterward and avoid strenuous activities for the rest of the day. Doing this will help your body to better recover from any potential soreness or pain associated with the massage session. With proper communication and care, you can enjoy a relaxing and beneficial massage without worrying about discomfort or pain.