Headache after Massage – Symptoms, Causes, and Management

Ever went to a salon for a massage for its soothing and relieving benefits on your nerves and came home with a headache? Ever felt the unpleasantness of pulsating temples interrupting your post-massage delight? Let’s get deep into its roots to help you enjoy the charming benefits of your next massage without interruptions anymore.

Symptoms of post-massage headache

Massage therapy is often followed by a somewhat unpleasant feeling or headache. To cope with, both the massage therapist and the client should be well aware of the affairs it may present. Symptoms include:

  • Unpleasantness
  • Pulsating temples
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Spells of heat and cold
  • Lightheadedness.

The symptoms may vary or may all be present in the same individual, and usually disappear on the same day as your massage therapy. 

Causes of post-massage headache

Poor oxidation of deep body tissues

Headache after massage usually results from poor oxidation of deep body tissues. Increased blood circulation due to excessive pressure applied to deep tissues, not only results in soreness and bruises in the affected areas but may also lead to a headache. Post-massage headaches are usually the manifestations of tension headaches, resulting from changes in arterial constrictions and dilations that may alter blood pressure, leading to a headache.

Inappropriate amount of pressure

The application of a comfortable amount of pressure for the client is a necessary measure. Massage therapy involves deep muscle layers and fascia. Applying pressure stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which can affect blood pressure. It is therefore recommended to coordinate with your massage therapist about the amount of pressure your tissues need.

Orthostatic hypotension

A sudden or abrupt positional change often results in a change in arterial pressure, leading to conditions like dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or lightheadedness. This may lead to headaches owing to hypotension. Orthostatic hypotension is a condition in which a person experiences decreased arterial pressure on an abrupt positional change after lying down or sitting for a long period.

What may trigger a post-massage headache?

Post-massage headaches, though common, are not always significant or a necessity. You might have suffered from a headache after your previous therapy, though it can be avoided. Triggering factors include:


Dehydration often leads to headaches. Massage therapy involves squeezing body tissue fluids into the vascular system. This leads to dehydration of the body tissues, often leading to a headache. Moreover, massage therapy for an individual already suffering from dehydration often leads to post-massage tension headaches.

Positional blood pressure changes

Individuals that have presenting complaints of orthostatic hypotension, or are hypotensive, may get their headaches triggered after massage therapy. Lying too long on a massage bed, followed by the abrupt positional change may lead to a headache.

Hypoglycemia and insulin treatments

Diabetic patients with hypoglycemia, and having insulin treatments may trigger a headache as it leads to low blood sugar levels.

Cardiovascular disease

Medications prescribed for cardiovascular disease like beta-blockers, antihypertensives, anticoagulants, calcium and sodium channel blockers, and ACE inhibitors may often lead to low blood pressure, drowsiness and lightheadedness.  Massage therapy on such patients without certain prerequisites may often lead to a headache.


Any constituent (oil, scents, etc.) of the massage products might be an allergen or a triggering agent for some people that may initiate a headache. These agents may be present in massage products or salon environment that may induce a headache.

Management of post-massage headache


If you are having lightheadedness, dizziness, pulsating temples, nausea, or vomiting that may be accompanied by spells of heat and cold after massage therapy, this is likely to be a post-massage headache.


  • Headache usually fades away with time. However, if persists OTC painkillers (e.g. paracetamol) can be used. Depending upon the intensity of pain, your medical practitioner may prescribe high-potency painkillers.


  • Try coordinating with your massage therapist about the amount of pressure you need. Give feedback more occasionally
  • Avoid deep tissue massages and full body massages, try going for a head, foot, or hand massage instead
  • Drink adequate amounts (8 ounces) of water before massage
  • Drink more water two days before your massage appointment
  • Avoid alcohol the night before and on the massage night
  • Snack yourself after a massage to avoid headache
  • Take a gentle post-massage bath with cold or warm water
  • Post-massage stretches are recommended.

Home remedies

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Mild pressure massage on your forehead and temple in gradual circular motions mild relieve your headache
  • Soreness or pain may be relieved by putting ice on the affected areas.

When to consult a doctor?

Post-massage headaches usually fade away with time, more occasionally on the same day as your treatment with your massage therapist. If they do not, it’s time to see your doctor. Headaches, nausea, dizziness, soreness, or any associated post-massage symptom must fade away in days. If these do not, you must see your chiropractor.


Why do I get a headache after my massage?

You may feel tired and have a headache after a massage that may result from poor oxidation or hypotension caused by an inappropriate amount of pressure applied by your massage therapist. If so, you need to coordinate with your therapist for the amount of pressure your tissues need. Also, get adequate sleep and hydration before your next massage.

Is it normal to feel dizzy after a massage?

Deep tissue massages typically interfere with your parasympathetic nervous system that causes hypotension and may result in dizziness. If it lasts for a long time, you must consult your doctor.

How long can a massage headache last?

A massage headache usually disappears in a day. If it persists more than a few days, see your doctor. 

Should I get a massage if I am hypotensive?

If you are hypotensive, stimulation of your parasympathetic nervous system may trigger your situation.  You can opt for other remedies than massage.

I am a diabetic, can I get a massage?

Of course, you may, after following some prerequisites. Low blood sugar levels may be disruptive. Make sure you have normal blood sugar levels before getting onto the massage table. Get proper snacking after having your massage done. Enjoy your therapy!

Last medically reviewed on October 17, 2022.