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9 Common Massage Myths Debunked

The science behind massage therapy has been around for centuries helping to make it a great way to relax, relieve stress, and improve your overall health.  As the popularity of massage has grown, so has the misinformation.

It's hard to know what is true and what is not.  In this post, we will take a look at some of the most common massage myths and share the scientific facts.

Top Myths About Massage Explained

You might be hesitant to try massage because of what you may have read or heard.  Will it be worth your time and money?  

deep tissue massage

We’ve compiled the most prevalent massage myths, and the truth behind them, so that you can feel confident that you have all the information you need to decide if massage is right for you.

1. A massage is a massage

There are many types of massage and each one is different.  It's a good idea to try various massage styles before decide which one you prefer.

You can choose from Shiatsu, Swedish, Deep Tissue, Trigger Point, Indian Head Massage, Thai, Balinese, Reflexology Massage, and more.  Some techinques like Swedish and Deep Tissue can be combined in the same treatment to maximize results.

woman lying on a massage table with stones and massage cream on her back

While some massage styles are similar, there are important differences.  For example, Thai and Balinese Massage both use stretching techniques but only the Balinese style uses oil during the massage.  

2. Massage is expensive

Yes, massage can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be.  If you want to splurge and get a massage at a fancy spa, you can, but there are other more affordable options.

You can even give yourself a relaxing massage at home.  There are some high-quality and budget-friendly massage chairs that will almost feel like you are getting a professional treatment.

Those who are new to home massage should read our massage tips for beginners or check out our recommendations for massage books.

3. If you aren't sore the next day it wasn't a good massage

Some people may feel a bit sore the day after a massage, especially if it was for deep tissue manipulation. If you don't feel tender the day after, that's perfectly normal, too.  It does not mean it was a bad massage.

Remember each body is different.  Some people will have more knots and tension than others, and every one has their own pain tolerance levels which in turn impacts the massage pressure that they prefer.

two hands pressing on back to give massage

Note: If the discomfort from a massage persists for more than a few days, you consult a healthcare professional.

4. You should not get a massage while pregnant

When you are pregnant, you should take every precaution to protect the baby. That doesn't mean you need to totally give up massages, but the way you get a massage may need to change. 

Prenatal massages can help mothers-to-be to by reducing their aches and pains, reducing stress, and allowing you to relax and sleep better.  You deserve to be pampered, after all, you are growing a human inside you.

closeup of a woman's pregnant belly with hands cradling it

While massages can have benefits when you are pregnant, you still need to be cautious.  You should not get a massage during your first trimester because it can make you dizzy or nauseous.

There are also certain techniques, trigger points in the body, and essential oils that may cause contractions and premature labor. It's important to have a discussion with your doctor and also let your massage therapist know that you are pregnant.

5. Massage can get rid of cellulite

Cellulite is a fact of life especially for women.  While certain types of massages (or anti-cellulite massage tools) may help reduce the appearance of cellulite, it is not an easy or complete solution.  

Cellulite

If you want to see any results you will need to do a massage at least three times a week.  You may want to combine this with cellulite cream or lotion, but it is not necessarily something which has to be done.

Massage on its own is not likely to make a noticeable difference in the appearance of cellulite.  You need to watch your diet (try these anti-cellulite foods) and make sure to exercise to see any improvement.

You many also want to try some of these natural remedies or use a TENS machine for cellulite.

woman lying on massage table with eyes closed and sheet covering her to her shoulders, there are candles lit in the background

7. You shouldn't eat anything before a massage

It's a common dilemma, should you eat before a massage? While it's not a good idea to have a big meal before a massage, you don't want to be hungry during your treatment.

If you are starving, you might feel dizzy or light headed during the massage. The best solution might be to have a light snack like fruit or nuts.

Think about timing when you book an appointment to have a massage.  It’s best to plan your massage so that it is not close to meal times.  You will have more flexibility when it’s an informal massage you are doing at home.

8. Massage can't help with migraines

There are many types of migraines which can be caused by different triggers.  With all the variables, no single treatment has been found effective for all migraines.

hands giving a gentle head massage on woman

Massage can be productive in treating some types of migraines especially those caused by tension.  Head massages can relieve tension and some have found it to be a quick way to ease migraine pain.

You don't need a massage therapist to give you a head massage.  There are some convenient head massagers which make it easy to give yourself a head massage at home.

Alternatively, some have found eye massagers and eye masks to help with migraine pain.

9. The benefits of massage are temporary

In most cases, a massage feels good and is a relaxing experience, but some think that the benefits of the massage end there.  In fact, on average, most people notice the benefits for about a week.

The length of time the benefits last varies depending on lifestyle and type of massage.  For example, if your life is stressful and hectic, then the gains from the massage won’t last long as compared to someone who lives a relatively relaxed life.

bag that says massage with stones one that says relax

There are things that you can do to extend the benefits.  After you have a massage session try to avoid stressors, caffeinated drinks, and intense workouts.  A bath can help the relaxing feel last longer too.

The best way to reap more benefits is to get regular massages.  The benefits of regular massage will improve both your mental and physical health.

In this post, we have taken a look at some of the biggest massage misconceptions. Hopefully, we have been able to help you debunk some of these theories so that you can reap the benefits of massage.

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About the Author

Natalie was introduced to massage therapy and manual therapy after health issues of her own. She wants to share what she has learned to help others life happier lives.