Back Pain After Massage

Back Pain After Massage

Experiencing back pain after a massage is a rather common occurrence. Although massage should be relaxing, some people suffer bad reactions after having a bodywork session. This occurrence can really turn people off to the idea of getting future massages, which is a shame, since the therapy can be a wonderful experience in most instances.

Post-massage pain can come about from several different reasons. Understanding why you might have a negative reaction to a particular massage or therapist is important to prevent a recurrence of suffering in the future. 

This discussion explores the potential reasons why a person might suffer back pain after massage. We will detail causative explanations that relate to the style of massage, the therapist, the anatomical position and general health circumstances which might be responsible.

Back Pain After Massage from Positioning

Some people are not acclimated to staying in a static position for a massage over an extended period of time. This is particularly true when the customer is placed face down for a 2 hour massage or when massage benches are not used. Some styles of massage therapy (Thai, for example), utilize hard rubber mats and reclining on one of these for a couple of hours is enough to make some people very sore.

An ergonomic massage bench facilitates proper circulation for the body, as well as a comfortable positioning of the neck and head with a facial cutout. Lying on a flat surface, and especially a hard surface, will not provide the same level of comfort and might be the direct cause of post-massage stiffness, pain and even neurological symptoms. These problems are exacerbated if a pillow is used to elevate and turn the head to the side while lying prone.

The solution to this problem is of course only going to massage establishments which utilize comfortable and ergonomic benches that support and cushion the body, allowing you to relax while the therapist does their work on your anatomy.

Back Pain After Massage from Style

Not all massage styles suit all patrons. There are more gentle styles and more aggressive styles, so every customer must know exactly what they want in order to enjoy their massage experience to the fullest. If you desire an aggressive massage but receive a very gentle one, you will not be fulfilled. However, if you require gentle and receive an aggressive one, then you could be in for a world of pain after treatment.

Some of the most aggressive forms of massage include Thai massage, trigger point work and sports massage. Other styles are typically more gentle and virtually any style can be customized to suit your preferences as long as you make yourself clear and have good communication with the therapist. When language is a barrier, you are already setting the stage for a less than ideal massage in many circumstances. This I know for sure as a regular international traveler.

Do some research on gentle massage styles, if this is your preference. You can always consult with a massage therapist first before deciding to hire them to perform any service. If they will not offer you a few minutes of their time to discuss your needs and expectations, go elsewhere.

Back Pain After Massage from Therapist

Finally, even if the environment and massage style are ideal for your needs, it is still possible to have a bad experience due to human error. Every massage therapist is different and their level of skill and communication varies greatly. It is certainly possible that a therapist can injure you through insufficient knowledge, incorrect technique, ignorance or ego. I have had it happen to me. Just remember that some styles of massage dictate certain behaviors, so avoid styles that will feature therapists who have been trained in a particular way that is detrimental to your needs.

Avoid therapists of any style who perform maneuvers with the capacity to injure, such as joint cracking, direct spinal pressure and direct organ pressure.

First Aid for Back Pain After Massage

The best thing you can do for post-massage back pain is to go get another massage… only kidding! Just relax, try not to stress out or worry that you have been really injured. The chances of a lasting trauma occurring during any professional massage are low, although these circumstances do happen occasionally. However, if you are on holiday and enjoying massage services of minimally trained, low paid people, do not be surprised if you end up sore afterwards. This is a good rule to remember…

Regardless, ice and heat are great home remedies for post massage soreness. Ice is great for acute inflammation and pain, since it cools and numbs. Heat is a good follow-up, but is not indicated when obvious inflammation is present. Wet heat, such as a hot tub or hot shower, functions very well to work out any residual soreness. Try to avoid drug therapies or the vacation remedy of excessive alcohol as pain relief methods. These will not work well and might add to the collateral negative health effects you are already suffering.

Don’t let one bad experience make you stay clear of massage. Just learn to be an educated massage consumer and spend as much time researching and communicating with your perspective service providers as you would enjoying their actual services. If you do, massage can be great, even if you have suffered a bad experience in the past.

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