ME Magazine

Massage Myths

Learn the truth behind 5 massage misconceptions

Massage has been around for thousands of years, but myths about massage are still rampant. We spoke with Charlotte Versagi, a massage therapy manager for Massage Envy, to help set the record straight. Read on-you can handle the truth!

Myth 1: A sign of a good massage is next-day soreness.

Truth: Soreness is no indication of how good a massage is.

"Some people will be sore after their first massage or if they've been sedentary for a while," Versagi says. "Another reason is if a massage therapist works very deeply to break up lactic acid or trigger points in your body, or if the client fails to drink enough water."

But if you get regular massages, chances are you won't be sore the next day, she says. "And you should never be so sore that you're in bed the next day."

Myth 2: As long as I feel fine, there's no need to drink water after a massage.

Truth: Drinking water after a massage is important and reduces soreness.

One way to boost your odds for not being sore the next day is increase your water intake after your appointment. "It helps move out waste products that the therapist worked out of your muscles into circulation," Versagi says.

But don't think stopping by the local watering hole on your way home is a good idea. "You should never drink or smoke after getting a massage," she says. "Because massage increases circulation, alcohol and nicotine have a stronger effect after a session."

Myth 3: If you're pregnant, you shouldn't get a massage.

Truth: Prenatal Massage Therapy is perfectly safe in all trimesters of normal pregnancies and actually can be beneficial.

"I've heard myths that massage can induce labor, but there are no points on the body that can trigger labor if touched. Even if a woman asks!" Versagi says. "For normal pregnancies, it's perfectly safe. And it feels wonderful-relaxing for mother and baby."

Myth 4: It's got to hurt to be effective.

Truth: "Nothing can be further from the truth," Versagi says about the no pain, no gain philosophy. "If I'm hurting a client, I consider that assault."

Of course, you need to distinguish between pain and discomfort. "You may experience discomfort, but you should never be in pain," she says of such treatments as deep-tissue massage.

If your therapist is inflicting pain, say so immediately. "A lot of clients assume a therapist knows when it hurts, but you need to say something," Versagi says.

Myth 5: My therapist didn't ask about it, so I don't need to bring it up.

Truth: Tell your therapist about your personal health history, including any medical conditions, surgeries and medications.

"Disclosing your medical information is extremely important," Versagi says. "If you have heart disease, if you're taking antidepressants, if you have metal in your body, if you took a pain reliever an hour before your appointment, we need to know. That information helps us tailor your massage to you, determine the depth to use or decide if you should have a massage at all."

Even if your therapist doesn't ask, give him or her a brief medical history before your massage begins.

-By Shelley Flannery