Can Massage Cause Muscle Spasms? What do Scientific Facts Say About It?

Massage is widely used for many years as a treatment that makes your body relax and release from pain. It also consists in many cases an alternative therapy to many diseases. There are many types of massage and numerous techniques that have been implemented by massage therapists. Nevertheless, although a lot of people enjoy the benefits of massage therapy, some people complain that they feel worse after a massage. They claim that they feel spasms or cramps at their neck, ribs, legs, or shoulders.

But, can massage actually cause muscle spasms? The answer is yes but rarely. According to scientists, massage helps your muscles relax and it is good for the local blood circulation. The problem erases when someone does abrupt and restless movements on your muscles. This can have the opposite effect on your body and muscle areas and it happens in most cases when you get a message from your friend or partner who is not professional.

What Happens to Your Body When You Get a Massage

There are several changes that occur in our bodies when we have massage therapy. First and foremost, blood pressure begins to slow down. When we are in the pleasant position of enjoying massage therapy our muscles relax and our blood pressure falls. It is remarkable that, during a massage, the applied pressure to your muscles can interrupt and change the flow of your blood.

Massage is connected to blood pressure. Moreover, massage helps your organization activating your immune system. However, as Casey Holliman, LMT for Performance Bodywork says ‘’when your body is already fighting off a virus due to a cold or flu, a massage can actually make things worse”.  Massage increases circulation throughout the body. With this increased circulation and manipulation of the muscles, it releases and/or pushes metabolic waste through your system faster than normal.” That is why we should not take a message when you are ill.

He adds also “When you are already dealing with symptoms in the early stages of the sickness, the massage can increase your symptoms and make you feel worse. Furthermore, if your body dehydrated it causes your liver and kidneys to work harder. You may experience a feeling of nausea, headache, or flu-like symptoms as your body struggles to process the increased amount of metabolic waste’’.

The level of cortisol decreases. This is another change that can occur in your body while you are getting a massage. Your blood vessels constrict and relax abnormally. As a consequence, it helps you reduce stress levels. During a massage, the applied pressure to your muscles can interrupt and change the flow of your blood, leading to the atypical constriction of your blood vessels.

Can Massage Therapy be Harmful to Your Nerves and Muscles

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, in 2018, approximately 19% of Americans had some form of massage. The general conclusion is that massage therapy is effective and very beneficial for someone’s health. However, some cases reveal that sometimes it can be the cause of muscle cramps or even put you at risk

Most accidents happen when a good friend or your partner tries to make you feel calmer with massage therapy. Many people do not have the knowledge of a professional massage therapist and they do abrupt and violent movements. This is more often when men want to make their wife feel more pleasant by offering her a massage. They do not have the sense of their strength and puss intensively their partner.

Massage can put you at risk according to the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM). There are recent cases that report that some patients after the massage they experienced they had shoulder pains. This pain persisted for almost three weeks and the magnetic resonance imaging revealed swelling in the left upper back.

As the researchers at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale suggest, such cases demonstrate the clinical and electrodiagnostic findings of a local compression nerve injury in the shoulder area caused by massage. Health care professionals and consumers should be aware of this potential complication. Dr. Mark Ross, senior author of the report states, “Individuals should tell their massage therapists if they experience pain or discomfort during their massage.

‘’Though nerve injury is not a common complication of massage, consumers and therapists should be aware of this risk. To reduce the risk of nerve injury, massage therapists should avoid applying excessive focal pressure to the neck and shoulder area.” Dr. Sara Schrader, co-author of the report states, “Individuals experiencing pain or shoulder weakness after a massage may benefit from a visit to the doctor to find out if nerve damage is the cause of their symptoms.

Nerves aren’t as vulnerable to pressure as people generally think. However, this doesn’t mean that you will not have a problem with intensive massage therapy. If you push very hard at one part of your body in the wrong place you can injure a nerve. In a 2017 incident, a woman’s radial nerve was crushed by an aggressive massage in her upper, inner arm. It is not often but it can occur.

Deep tissue massage is more likely to put you at risk compared to other forms of massage. This happens because the movements are more intensive. Massage therapists put more pressure and this can cause for example tissue tears and bruising. Tissue massage can make your muscles ache.

Muscle Spasms and Muscle Cramps

According to the Physicians’ Review Network, we have three types of muscles in our body. Smooth muscles, cardiac muscles, and skeletal muscles.  Cardiac muscles are related to the heart, smooth muscles are connected to the blood vessels and organs, and skeletal muscles are ‘’tied’’ to our bones and they help us move the parts of our bodies. We have muscle spasms when a skeletal muscle instead of relaxing it contracts. Muscle spasms are forceful and painful. A muscle cramp is caused when a muscle spasm remains sustained for a long time. Leg muscles, especially the quadriceps are most likely to cramp.

Either muscle spasms or cramps are not dangerous. In most cases, you do not have to worry about it since it is a normal situation for your body. However, if muscle spasms or cramps occur very often, you have to consult your doctor since it may be connected with neurological problems.

What Happens When Your Muscle Goes into Spasm or Cramps

According to Chicago’s home for physical therapy and sports performance, ‘’A spasm is an involuntary contraction of a muscle.  There are two types of spasms. Clonic and tonic spasms.  Clonic spasms are marked by alternating cycles of relaxation and contraction and tonic spasms are sustained periods of contraction.  Cramps are strong, painful usually short-lived spasms’’

Muscle Cramps or Spasms that occur suddenly cause not only pain but prevent your muscle from properly function. It can happen to just one muscle or it can affect a muscle group. Possible causes of muscle spasms include engaging in physical activity after a long break, dehydration, atherosclerosis, and chronic illness, overexertion either from exercise, or prolonged stay in a particular body position. The causes which are more connected with massage therapy are electrolyte imbalance and injuries.


Is it ok to massage muscle spam? Although the vast majority of cramps resolve on their own, the best thing you can do is let yourself enjoy a soft massage while using hot water in the region that you feel pain. The hot water will help your nerves relax and the soft movements of your hands will make you feel much better. Do repetitions every 10 minutes and this technique will release you from pain as it will make you feel better in a couple of minutes.

A powerful treatment if you have problems with muscle cramps very often could be some pharmacy tablets-click here to see the product on Amazon. Also if you love organic products there is a variety of choices that can relieve you from the pain of the crumps ( Follow the link to find out more about products with physical ingredients).

Last but not least, it is claimed that products with lavender help you get rid of the painful feeling of muscle spasms very fast and relax the muscles. Check here for products with lavender available on Amazon

Final Thoughts

As you can see in the video soft and slow movements can help you release from the pain and enjoy a real treat for your body. Always a good massage therapist can offer you a relaxing massage without concerning about muscle cramps or spasms. Trustworthy and physical products are another secret that in combination with your massage therapist can help you avoid muscle cramps and they can offer you a pleasant, relaxing time.

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