Why am I sore after a massage?

From Briar Atama, Remedial Massage Therapist

You’ve just woken up the day after a massage with your therapist and you think gosh… why am I so sore!?

You start to wonder why it feels like you’ve run a marathon in your sleep or why your muscles feel like you’ve just competed at the Olympics games in weightlifting.

Your muscles are painful, bruised & some a little swollen.

Didn’t you schedule your massage to help your tight & tender muscles, with the hope of getting relief straight away?


What's Really Going On?

Before you reach for your phone to ring and complain to your massage therapist, it is important to understand that is perfectly normal for your body to be sore the day after a massage as strange as that might sound.

For tight muscles, getting a remedial massage can be similar to experiencing a really tough workout.

Your muscles get stretched & manipulated during your appointment, as well as increased blood circulation to your tighter areas.

When you muscles get tight or strained, the muscles become rigid & they begin to rely on surrounding muscles to kick in & help out.


What am I feeling?

During your massage, your therapist will stretch, lengthen & break up muscle tension commonly known as knots.

This causes tiny micro tears in the muscles along the way & while it leads to increased blood flow to your problem areas, it can also bring with it day-after tenderness.

If you’re feeling quite dehydrated on the day of your appointment, your muscle tissue will not be as pliable & you will usually feel more soreness post massage.

If you are way more sore than you were before, & it’s just not tenderness, make sure to let your therapist know prior to your next treatment.

This can be done by a quick phone call or even a direct email to your therapist.

It is possible that your muscles have been worked on too hard or too soon.

Or perhaps during the massage you were anticipating pain so much that you unknowingly tightened your body.

A lot of concentration is often needed in a massage to relax your muscles & not doing so can result in a variation of muscles soreness post massage.


What should I do for the soreness?

After your massage there are some easy steps you can follow to help prevent some of the next-day soreness:

  • Increase water intake. Before & after massage. Hydrated muscles are more flexible & water also helps to flush away any toxins released by massage.

  • Have a snack on hand to eat after your massage. Massage speeds up the circulatory system as well as other bodily functions including your digestive system. This can mean that after your massage you might feel lowsey so a energy boost may take away any light headedness or hunger.

  • Take a warm bath or shower as your muscles will be warm & flexible ready to be stretched. Soaking in Epsom salts in your bath is an effective way to further help your body rid itself of toxins & muscle inflammation as well as absorbing magnesium benefits through your skin.

  • Gentle stretching that evening, under the guidance of your therapist, as paying extra attention to your trouble spots will give you most benefit from your massage.

  • Welcome any emotions after or during your massage. As you start to relax in your massage it is also normal for the body to release any emotional baggage you might be unknowingly holding on to. Massage helps decreased the stress hormones (adrenaline & cortisol) & increases the feel-good hormone (oxytocin). Extended stress can play havoc on our bodies & sometimes after a massage you can be left wanting to cry. Never feel bad for expressing yourself, it’s a good thing!



Tender muscles are definitely not enjoyable but it is a natural, normal part of your journey of health & well-being that comes with taking care of yourself with massage.

As your body starts to feel better, you’ll have less episodes of that next-day soreness, making you massage experience more pleasurable than painful.