Common Misconceptions About Massage

Man receiving a sports massage
As massage therapy continues to become more popular, myths regarding the practice have surfaced as well. Some people choose massage therapy to have a relaxing experience, while others use massage as a healing experience for the mind and body. There are several myths linked to massage therapy that should be made clear before anyone chooses this form of treatment.

Myth #1: All massages are the same.

There are over 200 types of massage, with each having its own focus. A spa massage is done for tension and stress relief and trigger the relaxation response. Sports massage, on the other hand, is great for athletes because it helps to keep the joints and muscles in great shape and correct muscle imbalances. Orthopedic massage is geared more toward healing a specific injury and keeping the joints and muscles mobile during recovery.

Myth #2: The benefits of massage are temporary.

While many people do enjoy getting a massage weekly, that doesn't mean that its effects are short-term. The benefits of a massage can be long-lasting, as massage is meant to retrain your muscles to let go of stress and tension of different areas of the body, which leaves you with a long-lasting, comfortable posture and relaxed feeling in your muscles.

Myth #3: Pregnant women should not get a massage.

While people once believed that getting a massage could release hormones in a woman that would cause early labor, this myth has been proven not to be false. A prenatal massage can actually benefit pregnant women by reducing bodily aches and pains, decreasing stress, and letting the mother-to-be relax.

Myth #4: You have to drink a lot of water after getting a massage.

While many people think that getting a massage releases toxins from the muscles that then need to be flushed out by drinking an excess of water, this isn't necessarily true. As long as one's body is healthy with normal kidney function, respiratory function, and liver function, the body is able to deal with the toxins on its own. That said, water will not hurt you after a massage, it just isn't required.

Myth #5: You should never interrupt the therapist.

Communication is important during a massage. Whether you are experiencing pain or you feel like you are benefitting from a certain amount of pressure, it is important to communicate with the therapist. For example, if you have knots in your muscles, parts of the massage may feel uncomfortable. This is normal. If you feel discomfort or pain, it is important to speak up prevent even more discomfort.

Myth #6: Massage can get rid of cellulite.

Cellulite and massage really have nothing to do with each other. Cellulite is a normal sign of subcutaneous fat cells, which is more connected to one's genetics than anything else. The only way that massage could possibly reduce cellulite is if it helped relieve post-workout muscle stiffness, which then kept you on your fitness routine. Exercise can slightly reduce the appearance of cellulite with time.

Myth #7: Massage therapy only involves moving muscles.

Massage has more effects on the body than simply manipulating muscles. It can stretch areas of tissue that are tightened, relieve bones, and organs. It can also help to manually move fluids, which will result in the loosening of joints and reduction of swelling. Moving fluids around in the body can also help to make movement easier. For example, the fluid that lubricates the joints, synovial fluid, can build up in arthritic joints, resulting in pain. Lymph, which typically moves through the body fighting infections, can lead to painful swelling. Massage, however, can help to increase blood circulation, moving nutrients throughout the body more effectively and speeding up healing.

Myth #8: Massages don't help migraines.

Massage therapy can help treat migraine headaches. Putting pressure on the trigger points for migraine headaches in the neck, head, shoulders, and face can help relieve tension. This can help to interrupt the pain signals that cause migraines by traveling up to the brain. When these blood vessels malfunction, it results in severe headaches, nausea, visual disturbances, and light sensitivity.

Myth #9: If you are not sore the next day, it didn't work.

Some people can be sore, especially after their first massage or if they have not been active in a long time. Massage may also release trigger points or lactic acid, resulting in some soreness. However, there is a good chance that you will not be sore the next day, and that doesn't mean that the massage was ineffective.

Eugene Wood is a Licensed Massage Therapist located in Nassau County NY. Learn more about advanced massage therapy by visiting his website at

Additional Resources

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)

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