Why do I feel tender after a deep tissue massage?

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The Swedish massage didn’t hit the spot or reduce the tension in your muscles or focus primarily on the area that needed work. Well you are not alone; sometimes people book the wrong type of massage.

We suggest never booking a massage without reading up on what you need and where has the best masseur for the job.

Let’s get down to business and talk everything deep tissue.

If you suffer from chronic tension, have an injury or feel very tight and knotty when your training gets more intense, then you may need a deep tissue massage.

Its important to note that if you are in pain its important to seek medical advice from your GP and this article in no way constitutes medical attention.

Your massage is going to focus on parts of the body that you indicate need attention and you will suffer some discomfort during and sometime after. In your deep tissue there is going to be a lot of applied pressure, use of forearms, elbows, fingertips, knuckles and hands. When we say applied pressure, we don’t mean so painful that you feel like you have been beaten up. You may feel like you have been beaten up that day after and we will cover this in a moment. Deep tissue is about working and aligning the different layers of tissue, treating the tendons, fascia and ligaments and the muscles themselves.

The main question is does it hurt? And why do I feel tender the day after? Well yes you are going to feel discomfort from the direct applied pressure and working with your masseur this should be bearable and not go into you crying like you’ve beaten up. Depending on the muscle being focused on will indicate the amount of discomfort you make need to put up with. We have found from many deep tissue massages that very deep knots and tense muscles discomfort is going to be extreme. Calves and upper back can be areas that you feel like you want to cry; this is because of your own pain thresholds and experience of pain.

So why is it painful? With scar tissue being loosened, muscles being lengthened, knots being forced to unwind, and sub-layers of muscle being forced to move back in the right place, definitely equate to discomfort. Imagine being able to remove a plaster from your skin without it pulling your hairs, not going to happen. You are forcing the muscles and the tension to move.

Best thing to do is work with your masseur in a way that helps during discomfort, taking a deep breath and using good breathing, allows oxygen to help relive the pain being felt. Just remember oxygen is usually given to people in high levels of pain in hospital as it helps blood to circulate and gives the muscle the oxygen it needs to recover. At this stage of your massage you need to communicate with your masseur which areas are painful and if the soreness becomes too much.

The day after or in some cases two days later you will feel the massages affects. When you train at the gym you move your muscles in directions, under resistance or with more work (repetitions) that are out of you normal range. You get what is known as DOMS the delayed onset of muscle soreness.  This means the muscle fibres have been pushed beyond their normal range, break apart and grow back forming stronger and bigger muscles. This is the same after a massage you are pushing the muscles and tissue back into alignment or stretching them more than they are used to.  But there is more….

Massage techniques help improve your circulation thus these techniques carry blood and nutrients to the muscle but at the same time remove toxins. DOMS is a physical response to inflammation as your muscles heal. The tissue manipulation during a massage is like we have said exercising a muscle in a way they are not use to. Lactic acid builds up during exercise and is that burning feeling you get during your repetitions; this is the same in massage as your masseur manipulates your tissue and muscle the lactic acid builds up.

If you are new to massage you are going to feel more after the first session or if the intensity in your massage has increased. It is normal and there are a few things you can do to reduce and relieve this soreness.

Hydration – drink plenty of water after your massage and stay away from stimulating drinks for up to 24 hours after your massage.

Stretching – regular stretching after a workout, after a massage or part of your daily routine helps reduce the fatigue and soreness.

Heat – having a hot bath or applying heat pack can relieve the soreness, heat helps muscle stretch and is also why we warm up before starting a workout.

Oils – essential oils in your bath, moisturising lotion will help reduce soreness. Use lavender, orange or tea tree to help stimulate recovery.

Medicinal – if you are suffering, seek medical advice and use muscle rub creams or other treatments advised by your doctor or pharmacist.

Herbal – taking a supplement or drinking a good cup of herbal tea will help relieve the soreness. Drink or use supplements like turmeric, clove, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon and garlic.

Recovery – actually take time after a massage to rest, book it in after work on Friday and take Saturday off. Sleep, chill and reduce your activity. This bodes well for both after a massage and a good training session.

Meditation – previously we looked into meditation, this meditating or yoga will help you relax, rest and stretch.

Ice Pack – if you have very tender areas then applying a cold compress or icepack to an area for up to 15 minutes with help reduce the soreness. As with the heat therapy a cold or ice bath may just do the trick.

Soreness is a good sign that the massage or exercise has worked. Just be careful when booking a massage. Like we have said on numerous occasions; speak to your masseur, talk through your needs and communicate how you are feeling and check the pressures being applied.

Try out some of our remedies and remember to book a regular massage with your favourite Manchester or London masseur.