You’ve heard about how a massage is amazing from all your friends. You know all the health benefits like how massage reduces back pain, lowers stress, and improves posture. You’ve even heard massage may help with fertility. Since hearing about all this you’ve had your first massage and…

It hurts.

You were expecting comfort and relaxation, not a 60 minute session full of pain. Massage is, after all, meant to relieve pain, not cause it. If your massage hurts, we’ve written this guide for you to get the full lowdown on the relationship between pain and massage.

painful massage relax

“No Pain, No Gain”

The above quote refers to the fact that anything that is rewarding, comes with a price to pay. Many people believe this is true in all aspects of life – therefore if your massage is hurting it must mean it is working. If only you weather through the pain then later you’ll be rewarded with better health, right? While that mantra might be true in some areas like for those trying to reach a professional level in sports or athletics, the same cannot be said for massage. In other words, the benefits of a massage don’t require any sort of pain to be effective.

What Is Causing Me to Feel Pain During A Massage?

There are several reasons why the massage was painful.

  • The massage therapist didn’t notice: This could either be because of an inexperienced masseuse with poor technique or a lack of tells that you were in pain.
  • You didn’t provide feedback: If the massage therapist cannot tell you are in pain, you need to speak up and communicate that it hurts. A good therapist will always listen and adjust according to your feedback.
  • The area was hurt or sensitive prior to the massage: While massage can relieve back pain, sometimes an area that already is painful will hurt more. While it can still be massaged, it requires that the person doing the massage is aware that that area is sensitive and to adjust power and technique accordingly.
  • Different pain thresholds: Every person is different and the pressure that hurts you might not hurt another.
  • Some massages are meant to hurt: If you’ve experienced a painful massage, it might be hard to believe that some people choose to pay money on a massage that hurts. However they do this because those type of massages come with benefits that greatly help our bodies. 

Massage pain stress hurts

Which Massages Hurt?

Now that you know that some massages hurt, you might be interested in which ones they are (even if only to avoid them). They are as follows:

  • Swedish massage: The most common massage technique – or school of massage – found in Western countries. It involves long strokes and massage oil on the muscles to release tension and induce relaxation.
  • Deep tissue massage: This massage technique bears similarities to a Swedish massage but the massage is even deeper (hence the name). Deep tissue massage focuses on the deepest layers of muscle and fascia in the body. It uses firm, slow strokes with strong pressure on the tissues to ease tense areas.
  • Myofascial release therapy: The massage variant is a direct method of myofascial release that involves an extreme amount of pressure in one area to stretch the fascia. This is usually used to treat myofascial pain so it’s unlikely you would unknowingly experience this technique.

male massage therapist massaging

Closing Remarks

Ordinarily, a massage shouldn’t hurt. Any belief that a massage needs to be painful to be effective is plain wrong. If your massage therapist insists on the pain, it might be time to reconsider and find a different therapist. That said, there are several types of massage practices that can cause pain. Regardless of which massage you ultimately get, it is important to research beforehand and communicate with your therapist. We hope you enjoy your next massage.