Massage therapy is often seen as a safe and beneficial form of treatment, but there are potential risks and side effects that should be taken into consideration. While the majority of adverse effects are mild, deep tissue massage can cause more serious issues. Most commonly, these problems are associated with massage techniques applied to the neck area. A review of four databases revealed that most negative symptoms began less than 12 hours after the massage and lasted 36 hours or less.
These symptoms were often dismissed by massage therapists as a “healing crisis” or detoxification effect. However, it is likely that these symptoms were caused by minor muscle crush injuries (rhabdomyolysis). Deep tissue massage can be an effective treatment for a variety of conditions, including sports injuries and back pain. However, it is important to note that going back to the gym or doing other strenuous activities immediately after a massage can undo all the effects of the massage.
Large-scale studies are needed to verify these data and evaluate the effects of different types and durations of massages. It is possible that a survey of 1000 or 10,000 patients would reveal other adverse effects associated with massage therapy.