The purpose of massage therapy is to relieve muscle tension and pain. And one of the common questions of people going for a deep tissue massage is can massage damage nerves?
As experts say damage to the nerves, especially in the neck area, is possible, but it’s very rare.
First of all, this is due to the nerves not being so vulnerable to massage. Larger nerves have good padding by other tissues. Healthy nerves are not so fragile and usually, during the massage, the nerves will send plenty of warning sensations, so any sensible person would stop pressing on the nerve before much harm is done.
Let’s Look at the Reasons More Closely
Larger Nerves Have Good Protection
The larger nerves, as well as nerve roots (the only ones that can be potentially damaged), are covered by a shield of skin, fat, muscle, and bone. So most of the back is well protected against muscle damage. In some places, like on the back of the neck, there’s at least half an inch of sturdy musculature that covers the nerves.
But of course, there’re some nerves that are not as protected and are more exposed to injury. But still, it’s worth mentioning, that the danger is minimal. Massage therapists call these areas “endangerment sites” and you can view them here on this page.
However, these endangerment sites are debatable. There’re many locations where the other nerves are potentially just as vulnerable as the ones listed in the table.
During the massage of these locations, you might feel electrical or zappy pains. But generally, you’ll feel it before there is any actual danger. Like any tissue, the nerves will speak up when on the verge of being crushed or torn.
Nerves Are Not Very Sensitive
Most nerves, when firmly squeezed, won’t produce any symptoms. However, in some instances, nerves can be more sensitive. Oxygen-starved nerves, like the nerve tissue in your neck, may be more sensitive to pressure. So when massaging the neck, you might get some nervier sensations. However, this sensation is only telling you that your soft tissues are cranky. And it shouldn’t be the cause for concern if these sensations are easily tolerable.
Can you Harm the Nerve If You Push Too Hard?
With too much pressure, you can, of course, injure a nerve. It’s rare, but it does happen. People can put up with a lot of pain if they think it’s necessary, so they deliberately ramp up pressure on a sensitive nerve. But this no-pain-no-gain attitude isn’t always the smartest.
However, nerves usually can recover from a lot of abuse. So if you cause yourself a nerve injury, it would probably take only a few days to resolve with some trivial symptoms. At the worst, it would probably take a few weeks.
It’s highly unlikely to damage nerves with self-massage because it’s just too unpleasant when you’ll be approaching the point of injury. So naturally, you’d stop before you get there.
It’s easier to hurt yourself with a massage tool, as it’s harder to control them. When you’re massaging with your sensitive fingers, it’s easier to tell what’s going on.
You can also get injured by an aggressive massage therapist. So before choosing one or the other massage therapist, check their reviews to make sure that they’re qualified.