Can Massage Therapy Cause Injury & Side Effects?


Yes, massage therapy can cause minor injuries. Nevertheless, Massage is one of the safest treatments for muscle recovery, stress and pain relief, and other related conditions. However, there are times it may not be safe to administer this therapy. While at different times, things could go wrong. 

This is mainly due to negligence on the part of the patient or massage therapist. Besides, it’s rare to experience severe injuries during a massage session. Unfortunately, there are a few times when this therapy (especially deep tissue massage) has reportedly caused mild injuries and minor side effects. 

To further support this point, a survey was carried out in 2007. This research involved 100 massaged patients. At the end of this survey, we found 10% of the patients who received massage treatment complained of some slight discomfort the next day. This minor discomfort is most likely a post-massage soreness and malaise that’s common after a massage.

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What Are The Common Injuries Among Massage Therapists

Many massage therapists are happy with their roles because their jobs are fulfilling and also make them active. At the same time, the job’s repetitive nature offers the possibility of injury. In the paragraphs below, we will look at the most common injuries massage therapists suffer while providing massages. They’re as follows:

Overuse Syndrome 

This is a general term for any muscle or tendon injury that does not fit into the diagnosis well. Generally, overuse injuries occur when you stress your tendons or muscles repeatedly. Furthermore, this kind of syndrome usually occurs gradually and takes a much longer time to heal. The signs may include pain, tightness, and soreness. The sharp pain usually occurs for shorter periods.

Tendinitis And Tenosynovitis.  

Repetitive movements, infection, and trauma are the leading causes of Tenosynovitis. A tenosynovial sheath surrounds certain tendons; its task is to avoid fraying by protective lubrication. You should note that swelling, pain, stiffness, and difficulty moving your joint may occur if this sheath becomes inflamed. 

On the other hand, Tendinitis is a condition that’s caused by an inflammation of a torn tendon. It equally shows symptoms similar to Tenosynovitis. Besides, repeated movements, using your hands to perform high-force massages, can lead to Tendinitis. 

One common symptom associated with Tendinitis is a pain in a localized area that is hot to the touch.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This refers to wrist pain which occurs when there’s a compression in the median nerve. It’s noteworthy to state that this median nerve is responsible for thumb and finger movement. Also, the median nerve goes through a wrist opening, best known as the carpal tunnel. 

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When you move your wrist repeatedly, it may lead to swelling in the carpal tunnel. And this condition will cause burning sensations, tingling, and itching, about the region between the shoulder and fingertips. 

If you don’t attend to this condition quickly, then cramps and pains aggravate. Also, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can cause permanent muscle damage when you leave it untreated.

Common Side Effects Of Massage Therapy

Most side reactions to massage therapy are minor. But then, in rare cases, severe reactions can occur. Below are some of the common side effects of Massage:

Lingering Pain

Pressurized techniques employed during a deep tissue massage make some people suffer from different pain versions during and after their therapeutic sessions. Although this situation may seem frightening, this side effect is quite common simply because of how the massage procedures are done. 

The muscle fibers’ movements induce stimulation that can create a state of pain. However, if this pain continues for more than a few days, consult your doctor.


When you get treatment from experienced professionals, bruises shouldn’t be an issue. Talking honestly with your massage therapist about existing medical conditions (or just your knack to get bruised easily) should be discussed before further sessions. But if your bruises worsen or last for more than a few days, then consult your doctor for advice.

Tiredness Or Sleepiness 

Due to stress release, feeling tired or exhausted after a deep tissue massage can be a side effect. Relieving stress in your body can reduce tension, whether physical, psychological, or both. However, these symptoms shouldn’t continue when you have a good night’s rest after your massage session.

Muscle Aches

Obviously, after the Massage, your muscles will ache as it penetrates the upper muscle layers. Afterward, your muscles will feel relaxed, which can potentially lead to muscle pain or even fatigue. Nevertheless, any discomfort you feel after a massage session shouldn’t last more than a few days. 


Do you know that frequent stimulation during treatment can lead to inflammation? Also, a previous injury, poor therapist performance, or constant pressure during massage therapy can cause inflammation. Fortunately, the inflammation usually clears up in a few days. 

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Nonetheless, you could place ice packs on the affected spot or take a small dose of pain relievers to help ease your condition.

Redness Or Heat (Skin)

Signs of feeling heat or skin redness are prevalent and usually not severe. Since some massage types require intense pressure, the consequences of this rubbing can have the effects above. Nonetheless, a feeling of warmth can also be positive. This is because heat shows that the muscles respond well to the treatment and are starting to heal.


Many health experts wouldn’t think of this effect as an average response. But it’s not uncommon for nausea to happen after a massage treatment. This awful condition is due to the release of toxins from the body during or after treatment. But there’s nothing to worry about since such a release is expected. 

Additionally, drinking water and getting some sleep would help eliminate any more nausea-related issues.


Having headaches after receiving a massage is not as common as the other side effects. Possible causes of headaches or migraines may be due to poor head posture during the massage session instead of headaches caused by pains in other pressurized parts of the body. Also, muscles close to the skull that is relieved by tension or pressure can cause headaches.

Also Read:How Does A Massage Gun Help Sore Muscles

5 Ways To Prevent Injury During Massage Therapy

Below are five ways to avoid injury when giving massage therapy:

  1. Ensure To Warm Up Before You Provide treatment. Practice consistent stretching of the wrists and forearms for five minutes before each massage session. Doing this will lower the injury risk.
  1. Don’t Forget To Take Breaks. You should take at least 10-20 minutes of short rest between sessions. When you work without observing a break, your muscles and tendons will suffer, leading to injuries.
  1. Practice Good Posture As You Provide Massage. Inconvenient positioning can put unnecessary strain on your muscles, joints, and tendons. Pain in the lower back and neck is probably the result of your poor posture when working. Practicing body-based mindfulness like yoga can help you develop good posture. And in the long run, it allows you to avoid muscle soreness, joint pains, and low back pains.
  1. Develop Strength And Conditioning. Ideally, strength is crucial for massage therapists. For example, you need good core strength to maintain a pain-free posture in an upright position. Endeavor to invest in your career by going to the gym regularly and sticking to a cardio and strength training plan.
  1. Employ Variety Of Treatments. This is vital to avoiding injury. Let’s say you perform the same massage procedures six days a week; you will likely have an overuse injury. Therefore, it’s essential to vary your procedures with different patients. 
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Frequently Asked Questions

Can a bad massage cause nerve damage?

Yes, a bad massage could cause nerve damage. However, nerve injury as a result of Massage is a rare occurrence. Still, both clients and their massage therapists need to be aware of this risk. Also, ensure your therapist doesn’t apply excessive focal pressure to your shoulder or neck region. That way, it will reduce the risk of you suffering from nerve injury.

What are the side effects of a deep tissue massage?

The most common side reactions of a deep tissue massage include the following:

  • Muscle Aches
  • Lingering Pain. 
  • Fatigue 
  • Sleepiness
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Inflammation
  • Nausea

Can massage too hard cause damage?

Massage therapy shouldn’t be painful. Placing or pulling too much pressure on the tissue can aggravate an injury or create issues that were absent before.

Final Words

There’s no denying that Massage is an effective treatment for many conditions, including low back pain and sports injuries. Also, this therapy alleviates stress and helps with conditions such as arthritis, sciatica, and fibromyalgia.

When your therapist performs massage procedures correctly, the benefits are immense. Although, at first, you could feel uncomfortable when pressure is applied to your deep muscle areas.

 But you must ensure to take proper precaution, as mentioned earlier in this article. This will help to lower your chances of suffering from injury during a massage session. 

Finally, suppose you find booking a massage session with a therapist expensive. In that case, we recommend buying an affordable percussion massager like the Opove M3 Pro. 

This is not only cost-effective, but it’s equally efficient as seeing a massage therapist. Click here to read more about the Opove M3 Pro.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is a result of in-depth research on the subject matter. This article is only for informational and educational purposes, and it’s not intended as medical or health advice. Hence, I suggest you always ensure to seek the opinion of your doctor or other qualified health personnel regarding any questions that relate to health objectives or medical conditions.

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