Pain | Headache | Aching | Sleepiness | Inflammation | Skin rash | Nausea | Triggering old injury

Deep tissue massage is designed especially to relieve discomfort in specific muscle groups that are positioned close to your bones, joints, or both.

With strain or injury, muscles can shift position. The result is uncomfortable tension, tightness, pressure or even mild to significant pain.

Deep tissue massage works hard to loosen up the muscles so they return to their correct position. There’s a reason it’s referred to as deep, because the pressure travels beneath the layers of muscle tissue, fascia (connective layers) and tendons.

Often, the therapist will use massage oils as well, sometimes these are essential oils which help you to relax during the session but they are also used to help with friction during massage.

Deep tissue massage effectsThe massage therapist works using the hands to apply slow, definitive pressure to targeted areas. This type of massage is good for back pain (including lower and upper), neck pain, leg pain and shoulder pain.

Most common deep tissue massage side effects

A professional deep tissue massage therapist will help to remove pain, but sometimes, you might need more than one or two sessions, depending on the injury and the level of pain you experience. However, each session should make a difference to your ability to move in comfort.

With any type of massage, you should always go to an expert. Visit someone who understands muscle groups and is trained to correct problems using their technique. You should never experience chronic pain during a massage, or post-massage. Unfortunately, some deep tissue massages can result in side effects, here’s a list of what they are.

1. Prolonged Pain

Your initial pain should dissipate after deep tissue massage, however, sometimes; you need more than one or two sessions so you might still experience some pain post-massage. If you experience pain during your deep tissue massage, you should let the therapist know.

Some pain is “good” pain, and is an indication that the massage is calming down inflammation or loosening a muscle. If you do experience severe pain, you must stop your massage as you could be worsening the problem.

If you do have pain post-massage and it doesn’t subside after a couple of days, you should contact the therapist for advice.

2. Headache

Some people experience headache symptoms post-massage but this is uncommon as massage usually alleviates head pain and migraines. It could be due to the position your head was in during the treatment.

Or during massage, your therapist may have triggered a response from one of the pressure points, particularly if your upper back or neck area was massaged.

Headache symptoms are nothing to worry about unless they don’t disappear after a couple of days or using painkillers.

3. Aching Muscles

Experiencing muscle ache or muscular tiredness is normal, post-massage. Your muscles will have relaxed themselves so you might have some soreness but it should be manageable and subside after a couple of days.

4. Feeling Sleepy

This is a common side-effect of massage and it’s because deep tissue massage can be very relaxing. The massage will reduce inflammation and tension which can make the body feel tired as it’s worked so hard to try and relieve itself of pain!

You’ll probably have a great night’s sleep and feel much better in the morning.

5. Inflammation

This is a common reaction to massage. Your therapist might trigger inflammation in an aggravated area or possibly apply pressure where there’s been an old injury.

Notify your massage therapist if this happens during the treatment and if the side-effects don’t subside after a couple of days, try pain killers, ice or heat. You should also seek some advice.

6. Skin Rash

You might notice that the area that was massaged is red or feels tingly. This is purely the result of pressure on your skin from the massage therapist’s hands and will disappear.

If it doesn’t, it might be you have an allergy to the massage oil used. Try an antihistamine to reduce redness, itchiness or heat.

7. Nausea

A rare side-effect of deep tissue massage is nausea; this is usually due to the lymphatic system getting rid of toxins in the body and will dissipate after a day or so.

Feelings of sickness shouldn’t linger for any longer. Drink plenty of water to flush out any excess toxins, this should help.

8. Triggering an Old Injury

This is possible, especially if you forgot to mention any old injuries to your therapist. To avoid triggering old injury pain, let your massage therapist know any potential problem areas.


Any side effect that you experience post deep tissue massage should not last long, especially if you choose to visit an experienced therapist.

Always do your research before undergoing massage and take time to speak to your massage therapist about what you expect post-treatment, highlighting areas of focus and the areas you would like them to avoid.


Carmen is an entrepreneur and content marketer. In a former life, as a corporate business executive, she relied on yoga, reflexology and other alternative practices to fight stress, anxiety and find balance. She’s on a mission to build healthy habits for a balanced, healthy life, connecting body, mind and spirit.