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Can a Massage Make You Feel Sick?

Category: Health, Massage
Man with headache sitting down with a glass of water in one hand

Getting a massage is an ideal way to relax and enjoy yourself. However, some people feel sick after getting a massage.

Some say they feel nauseous, lightheaded, or weak after a massage. They could feel sick immediately, after a few hours, or the next day.

It’s common to be unsure why you might be feeling sick. Some people might think they caught the flu at massage parlor, but that’s probably not the case. Instead, there are various reasons why someone might feel sick after a massage.

Can a massage make you feel sick? Let’s take a look and find out.

Is it normal to feel sick?

It’s not exactly normal to feel sick after a massage, but it’s not uncommon. You may feel various flu-like symptoms after a massage, depending on your health and well-being.

Common symptoms

Some of the common symptoms people might have if they feel sick after getting a massage include the following:

Lack of Energy
Soreness and Pain

Why do some people feel sick after a massage?

There are several reasons why someone might feel sick after getting a massage.

Type of massage

The type of massage you get matters significantly regarding whether you’ll feel sick or not.

Massages that use gentle strokes and light pressure, like a Swedish massage, will typically not cause you to feel sick afterward. It’s possible but not likely, especially compared to massages where more pressure is applied, like a deep tissue massage.

More people tend to feel sick after a deep tissue massage than other massages. There are several reasons, but a common one is that your immune system strongly reacts to the intensity your muscles can feel during a deep tissue massage. This reaction can leave you feeling sick, and it’s more likely if you’re in poor health or out of shape.

Water intake

Drinking a healthy amount of water is essential to maintaining good health. It’s also important when you’re going to get a massage.

As your muscles and tissues are manipulated and blood circulation increases, your body can feel like it just went through a rigorous workout, leaving you dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to various ailments, including nausea, dizziness, and headaches.

You might feel more dehydrated if you get an intense massage like a deep tissue massage or if you’re not in good health.

Oils and scents

Normally, massage oil and scents should enhance the massage experience, but in some cases, they can leave people feeling sick.

Overexposure to strong scents can be potent and negatively affect your body, especially if you’re not used to the scents. In some cases, you might not even realize the smell makes you feel sick. A massage oil or candle can have a pleasant scent, but if it’s strong and overpowering, you might feel nauseous or get a headache.

You could also have an allergic reaction, although that tends to apply more to massage oils. Your skin might be irritated from the massage oil used during a massage.

Prior injury or underlying health condition

If you have a prior injury like a flesh wound, broken bone, etc., getting a massage can aggravate these injuries. For example, getting a massage if you have a flesh wound could re-open your wound or cause an infection, making you feel sick.

An underlying health condition can also be problematic, although it will vary per your condition. For instance, if you have a heart condition, a massage could increase your heart rate, which could be an issue depending on your specific condition.

If you have a prior injury or underlying condition, it’s best to consult a medical professional if you should get a massage, any type to avoid, or any other restrictions.

You already feel sick

Getting a massage while you’re already sick can be a bad idea. When you’re sick, your body is already doing its best to fight off the infection. If you already feel weak from having an illness like the flu, a cold, strep throat, etc., a massage might not help you feel better.

A massage might alleviate some symptoms, but it won’t necessarily heal you and could make you feel more worn out. For instance, if you feel congested, lying down for a long time can make you feel more congested.

Additionally, if you get a massage when you’re already sick, there’s a high chance you can get the massage therapist, staff, or other clients sick. It’s rude and not good massage etiquette.

Bad massage

A bad massage can lead to many problems, and feeling sick is one of them.

If the massage therapist doesn’t know what they are doing, they might apply pressure to areas of the wrong body area. For example, applying too much pressure to the wrong part of the stomach can leave you feeling nauseous.

While a bad massage can happen anywhere, it tends to happen more in shady massage parlors or from unlicensed massage therapists.

How long will I feel sick after a massage?

How long someone might feel sick after getting a massage will vary. Some people feel fine after a few hours, while others might take a day or two.

If your symptoms worsen or you start developing things like a fever, you should seek professional medical attention.

How to manage feeling sick after a massage

Feeling sick after a massage isn’t fun, but there are things you can do to manage your symptoms and feel better.


You should drink a healthy amount of water before and after your massage. The more hydrated you are, the higher chance you can avoid feeling sick after getting a massage.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol

Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, and they can further dehydrate you. It’s best to avoid these if you’re feeling sick.

Avoid unhealthy foods

Unhealthy foods can make you sicker, so it’s best to avoid them. As tempting as it is to have a slice of cake or some fast food, these foods tend to be high in salt and sugar, which can worsen your symptoms.

Instead, you should eat something healthy or have a light snack. It’s also okay to skip out on eating if you feel like you’re about to vomit.

Light movement and stretches

While you shouldn’t go hard and do an intense workout, light exercising, like walking around the block or stretching, can help ease some of your symptoms.


Sometimes, all you need to do to feel better is to lie down and rest. Snuggling up in your bed and getting a good night’s rest can be a great way to ease your symptoms and recover.

Getting sick doesn’t always happen

We’ve gone over some circumstances where people can feel sick after getting a massage, but you shouldn’t worry too much. There’s no guarantee you will feel sick, and you shouldn’t let fear hold you back from enjoying a massage.

If you do feel sick, there are things you can do to feel better, like drink some water and get rest. If you constantly feel sick after a massage, you might need to see a medical professional to see if there’s something else going on.

Either way, take care of yourself and do what’s best for your health.

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