The practice of massage is very ancient. Over the last centuries various techniques have evolved and the art of giving a massage is refined and perfected. Deep tissue massage is a form of massage in which the deeper tissues are targeted and knots or tension is released from the muscles and connective tissue or fascia. There are a lot of benefits which can be achieved by deep tissue massage. But sometimes a little bruising after massage is noticed.
Are Bruises After Massage Normal?
No, bruising is not normal. It does happen sometimes and is mostly due to injury to the blood vessels. In deep tissue massage a lot of pressure is applied to the muscle tissues by the therapist. The deep tissue massage can be a bit uncomfortable because of the extra pressure but it should never be painful. The basic purpose of a deep tissue massage is to relieve pain, not increase it. If the technique is not correct there can be injury which can result in bruising.
Why Does It Happen?
During a deep tissue massage the massage therapist puts pressure on the deep muscles and the connective tissue under the muscles. The fascia gets stuck sometimes resulting in knots and a lot of pressure is required to loosen or release these knots. It is very important to put the right amount of pressure and to use the correct technique to avoid any injury or bruising after massage.
Sometimes this extra pressure can result in bruising. The bruising is mainly due to:
1. Ruptured Blood Vessels
The bruising or discoloration that sometimes appears after a deep tissue massage is due to collection of blood under the skin or inside the muscles. The delicate blood vessels get ruptured due to the pressure applied during a massage. When the blood collects under the skin it is known as subcutaneous bruise, and when it gets collected inside the muscles it is known as an intra muscular bruise.
2. Medical Conditions
Some people are more prone to bruising than others and they tend to develop bruises after massage. This mainly happens due to their thin skin or fragile blood vessels. The texture of the skin and fragility of blood vessels is dependent on many factors such as:
- Certain medicines like corticosteroids and blood thinners
- Bleeding or clotting disorders
- Vitamin deficiencies especially vitamin C deficiency
- Sun exposure and sun damage to the skin
- Certain medical conditions resulting in thin and weak skin
Some individuals tend to develop bruising after massage and if that is the case, the massage technique needs to be changed. You can discuss with your message therapist or chiropractor to change the form of massage. There are various forms of massages available which use lighter pressure.
Do not hesitate to tell the massage therapist if you have experienced any bruising following a massage in the past or you generally tend to bruise easily. If at any stage you feel any pain you can ask them to use lighter pressure.
What to Do?
If you have developed bruising after a massage the best thing you can do is to apply some cold compresses or ice pack on the affected area. This will reduce the blood flow in injured blood vessels and there will be less bleeding from them. Ica packs also help to reduce the swelling and inflammation. This is the best strategy for first 48 hours. After that you can apply a hot compress. Be careful and do not put extra pressure on the affected area as it can worsen the injury.
If the area is very painful and there is no relief after applying ice packs or hot compresses, you can take some painkillers after consulting with your doctor or health care provider.
If you have any medical condition, or are taking any regular blood thinning medicines and develop bruising after massage, you need to contact the doctor immediately for urgent assessment.
Massage Related Myths You Must Know
1. Myth 1: You can get a massage from anywhere, they are all the same.
All massages are not the same and there is a wide variety of techniques available to treat different disorders. Massages offered in a spa setting focus on relaxation while those done in clinics or hospitals can treat conditions like backache, muscle spasms and other conditions. It is very important to go to a trained massage therapist to get maximum benefit.
2. Myth 2: The main purpose of massage is to move muscles.
It is not just the muscles which are targeted during a massage. The purpose of massage is to ease the tension in muscles, connective tissue and the deeper structures. A proper massage can lead to better flow of lymph and can reduce fluid accumulation. It also results in better blood supply and availability of more nutrients.
3. Myth 3: Massage is only temporarily effective.
It is a common misconception that the massage only provides temporary relief to muscle aches. In fact a well-trained massage therapist can help you to improve your posture and after a few regular sessions your muscles will be realigned and the posture related issues will get resolved.
4. Myth 4: Cancer cells can spread through the body with massage.
There is absolutely no truth in it. Cancer cells cannot spread by a massage. On the contrary, a massage done by a trained professional can ease the aches and pains and discomfort of someone undergoing chemotherapy or battling cancer.
5. Myth 5: If the massage is effective you will feel aches and pains after it.
The basic purpose of a massage is to give relief from the pain and there is not truth in the saying that if there is no pain after a massage it wasn’t a good one. You might feel a bit sore after a deep tissue massage but it is perfectly ok if you have no pain after the massage.
6. Myth 6: Drinking water after massage is a must.
There is no point in drinking large quantities of water after a massage to get rid of the released toxins. If you have normal kidneys and liver, your body will take care of them by itself. Drink water normally and there is no harm in having a glass of water if you feel thirsty after getting a massage.