Why Some Areas Hurt More than Others During a Massage Treatment

Why Some Areas Hurt More than Others During a Massage Treatment

You may have scheduled your massage treatment for a number of reasons: perhaps you just want to experience relaxation after a stressful day, you might have a sports injury that requires attention, or you are preparing for an event and want your muscles at peak condition. However, you may well find that your body is responding to the massage with varying levels of pain. The type of massage you receive will also have relevance as regards pain levels.

  • Swedish massage is usually looked upon as a ‘general massage’ that uses a combination of strokes to promote relaxation.
  • Deep tissue massage will have your therapist rooting more deeply into the tissues to help work out problems that may have arisen.
  • Trigger point and neuromuscular massage tend to concentrate on a specific hot spot to provide relief from pain.

Sore muscles, damaged ligaments and tendons, will all be painful when your massage therapist begins to work on them. Torn tissues are going to ‘squeak’ when pressed on and manipulated, but you may be surprised that previously quiet areas or those that were presenting only minimal problems respond with a very noticeable jolt of pain.

Trigger Points

Fasciae are connective tissues in our bodies that work to hold muscles, organs, and other bodily structures in place. Fasciae sometimes appear as bands and at other times as sheets, and it is in the fasciae that trigger points can appear. A trigger point is a small, painful knot in the fascia, and is sometimes discovered by accident during a regular massage. Trigger points will often shoot pain out to other parts of the body, so that the pain you may be feeling in your forearm actually originates in a trigger point in your shoulder. These points are hypersensitive, and you will feel some pain as your massage therapist works them out.


Adhesions are painful places in the body where scar tissue has formed. They usually happen after surgery or after a serious injury – even a bad infection can cause adhesions. The reason why adhesions cause pain is because they form a bridge between two unconnected areas of the body such as between the body wall and the intestines. Adhesions pull and tug uncomfortably and often surgery is suggested to get rid of them; the only problem here is that surgery can cause more adhesions. Massage therapy to break up adhesions can be painful to one degree of another, and while the therapy may not be able to remove the scar tissue entirely, but will be able to provide more flexibility and help drain off excess fluid.

Sprains and Strains

While sprains and strains may sound like pretty much the same thing, they are actually quite different.

  • Sprains are damage to the ligaments that hold the bones of a joint in place, such as the knee, ankle, shoulder, and wrist. If a ligament becomes stretched or torn, swelling, pain, and bruising will follow.
  • Strains occur when muscles, or the tendons that attach the muscles to bone, become injured. If these tissues are stretched beyond their capacity to spring back, or are actually torn, there will be pain, swelling, spasms, and bruising.

Both sprains and strains are uncomfortable and will limit your movement and activity. When you are undergoing massage therapy for these, you will probably experience some degree of pain when your therapist works on these tender and inflamed areas.

This Too Shall Pass

Please always keep in mind that although your therapist will do everything in his or her power to make your massage as pleasant as possible, there are certain conditions that can cause pain, especially if a specific problem is being addressed. In most cases, pain will diminish or disappear as treatment continues.

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