You most likely schedule a massage to float into a euphoric state of relaxation and get some relief from tight muscles, pain, or injury. However, as part of the healing process, you may feel some degree of muscle soreness or tightness afterward.

Just as you may feel sore after a workout, massage can stimulate areas of your body that you haven’t targeted recently. If you’re feeling pain in a certain part of your body, you may unconsciously ignore this spot, which can cause tension. A massage can highlight areas of your body where you’re holding on to tightness.

Certain types of massage, such as deep tissue, are more likely to cause post-massage soreness. If you’re super sensitive, have a lot of pain or tension, or simply want to avoid feeling sore afterward, opt for a massage that uses a light, gentle pressure.

Read on to learn more about why you may feel sore after a massage and how to minimize discomfort

Why does this happen?

It’s normal to feel sore after a massage. After stimulating muscles that you may not usually use, you might experience delayed onset muscle soreness. This is a physical response to the inflammation as your body heals.

This can happen if your muscles aren’t accustomed to massage. In the same way that your body gets used to working out, your muscles need time to get used to being manipulated in certain ways.

You may experience inflammation and soreness in areas that need healing. If you have neck pain after a massage, for example, it can be a sign that you carry a lot of tension in that area. You may have limited flexibility and mobility in your neck due to working at a desk or bending forward repeatedly.

If you haven’t had a massage recently or if it’s your first one, it’s more likely that you will feel sore afterward. Your body will create muscle memory if you have frequent massages, so aim to be regular with your sessions when possible.

1. Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water before and after your massage.

Avoid alcoholic, sugary, and caffeinated drinks. Along with water, opt for healthy options such as coconut water, fresh fruit or vegetable juice, or herbal teas.

2. Stretch it out

Following your massage, do a few gentle stretches on your own. This helps release muscle tension, improve flexibility, and improve circulation. It’s also a great way to tune into your body, alleviate stress, and quiet your mind.

3. Heat therapy

Warm your body up to promote relaxation. Take a hot shower or go to the sauna. Add baking soda or Epsom salt to a bath and soak for up to 30 minutes. You can also use a heating pad or hot rice bag on any painful areas for up to 15 minutes at a time.

4. Essential oils

You can also use essential oils for pain relief. Add a few drops to your bath or shower or use a diffuser. Or, you can combine essential oils with a carrier oil for topical application or to use in a compress.

5. Herbal relief

There are several herbs that may stimulate muscle relaxation and reduce inflammation. You can take them as a capsule, tincture, or tea.

Some herbal options include:

  • turmeric
  • clove
  • black pepper
  • ginger
  • cinnamon
  • garlic
  • cayenne

6. Rest

Take time to rest and recharge. If you can, build in time to rest after your massage. Elevate your feet and legs with pillows and take some time to listen to your favorite music, read a book, or sleep.

7. Guided meditation

Lie on a cushioned mat or bed and listen to a mindfulness recording. This could take the form of a guided meditation, a body scan, or yoga nidra. Check in with your body and notice where you can release tension.

8. Cold therapy

Use an ice pack on any painful areas for 15 minutes at a time a few times per day. Or, take an ice bath to relieve inflammation, alleviate soreness, and boost blood flow. To target a small area of the body, you can use a small container of ice.

If you experience soreness after a massage, rest assured that it’s a normal occurrence. Continue to improve your well-being and reduce soreness by taking care of yourself after each massage. Get massages on a consistent basis in order to maximize the benefits and minimize the discomfort. To book one of our experienced massage therapists, please send an email to

Please note that any advice given in this article does not replace personalized advice from a medical professional.