Painful Massage

Why are Massages Painful?

While having a massage can be a pleasurable indulgence for some, it can cause a painful experience for others and many avoid it due to the discomfort that may come with it. Still, why must massages be physically demanding? The concise response is they do not always need to be. At times, aches and distress may be part of the massage experience, depending on the type of massage, what your body requires, and how comfortable you are with being touched. This composition will investigate the reasons why massages may hurt, what types of ache are usual and what isn’t, and how to locate a massage therapist who can suit your body’s special requirements.

Reasons Why Massages Can Be Painful?

Pain during a massage can be attributed to various reasons, and understanding these factors can help us appreciate the intricacies of massage therapy better. Some of the primary causes of massage-induced pain include:

1. Muscle Tension and Knots

Experiencing pain during a massage is often attributed to muscle tension and knots. These areas of muscle tightness can be sensitive and cause discomfort when pressure is applied, particularly in deep tissue massages. The main objective of the massage therapist is to relieve these muscle knots, which might cause temporary discomfort. 

2. Inflammation

Inflamed muscles or tissues can also contribute to the pain experienced during a massage. Inflammation might be caused by various factors, such as overuse of muscles, injuries, or certain medical conditions. Massaging inflamed areas can aggravate the discomfort, but it is often essential to promote healing and reduce inflammation in the long run.

3. Pressure Intensity

The intensity of pressure applied during a massage can significantly impact the level of discomfort. While some individuals prefer firm pressure, others might find it too painful. It’s crucial to communicate your comfort level to the massage therapist to ensure a more enjoyable experience.

4. Trigger Points

Trigger points are hyperirritable spots within muscles that can cause referred pain to other parts of the body. When pressure is applied to these points during a massage, it can lead to discomfort. Skilled massage therapists can identify and work on these trigger points to alleviate pain over time.

5. Sensitivity

Each person’s pain threshold is different, and some individuals are more sensitive to touch than others. People with lower pain tolerance might find certain massage techniques uncomfortable or painful, even with gentle pressure.

6. Pre-existing Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia or arthritis, can make individuals more susceptible to experiencing pain during massages. It’s essential to inform the massage therapist about any medical conditions or concerns before the session begins.

7. Post-Massage Soreness

Post-massage soreness is a common occurrence, especially after a deep tissue or intense massage. This soreness is similar to the muscle soreness experienced after a strenuous workout and usually subsides within a day or two.

8. Poor Hydration

Dehydration can make your muscles more susceptible to pain during a massage. It’s essential to stay well hydrated before and after your massage to reduce the likelihood of discomfort.

9. Psychological Factors

Emotional stress, anxiety, or tension can manifest physically in the body. When these factors are present, a massage can release both physical and emotional tension, which might cause temporary pain or discomfort.

10. Adverse Reactions

In some rare cases, individuals may have adverse reactions to certain massage oils, lotions, or even the massage techniques used. Allergic reactions can lead to discomfort during or after a massage.

Is It Normal For A Massage To Be Painful?

Massage therapy is a popular form of treatment for individuals seeking relaxation, pain relief, or stress management. However, some individuals may experience pain or discomfort during a massage, leading them to question whether this is a normal occurrence. The answer to this question is not a simple one, as pain during a massage can be subjective and dependent upon the individual’s pain threshold, the type of massage being performed, and the specific area of the body being targeted. It is important to communicate any discomfort to the therapist immediately so that they can adjust the pressure or technique accordingly. Some types of massage, such as deep tissue or trigger point therapy, may inherently involve more pressure and result in more discomfort, but the overall goal of the massage should always be to provide relief and relaxation. 

Tips for a More Comfortable Massage Experience

While experiencing some level of discomfort during a massage is normal, there are several steps you can take to enhance your overall massage experience and minimize pain:

1. Communicate with Your Massage Therapist

Open communication with your massage therapist is essential. Be sure to discuss your comfort level, any areas of concern, and any medical conditions you might have. Your therapist can then adjust the pressure and techniques accordingly to ensure a more pleasant experience.

2. Hydrate Before and After

As mentioned earlier, staying well-hydrated can reduce the likelihood of muscle soreness and discomfort after a massage. Drink plenty of water before and after your session.

3. Consider a Gentle Massage

If you have a lower pain threshold or are new to massages, consider starting with a gentle massage, such as a Swedish massage, before progressing to deeper pressure techniques.

4. Apply Heat

Applying heat to tense areas before your massage can help relax the muscles and make the experience more comfortable.

5. Follow Post-Massage Recommendations

Your massage therapist might provide you with post-massage recommendations. These may include gentle stretches, self-massage techniques, or specific care for sore areas. Following these instructions can aid in your recovery and reduce any post-massage discomfort.

6. Take Deep Breaths

During the massage, focus on taking deep breaths to relax your body and mind. Deep breathing can help ease tension and discomfort.


Massages can be a source of relaxation and pain relief for many, yet they can also be quite painful depending on the technique used and the individual’s pain tolerance. The pain may be caused by the therapist targeting specific areas that are holding tension or trigger points, or by the manipulation of muscles that are not used to being stretched in that way. It’s important to communicate with your massage therapist about the level of pressure you are comfortable with throughout the session. Additionally, it’s also important to understand that some level of discomfort may be necessary in order to release tension and achieve the desired results. Finding a skilled massage therapist in Long Beach who communicates effectively, understands your body’s unique requirements, and employs the right techniques can transform your massage experience. This therapeutic approach can significantly enhance your physical and mental health, making massage an essential part of your wellness journey.

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Mara Swick

Mara Swick is a seasoned licensed massage therapist and esthetician with over two decades of expertise. Her profound knowledge and hands-on experience make her a trusted voice in holistic wellness and skin care.