Effects of massage: Why my nose gets blocked during massage?

Written by Attila Gaspary, 03/Apr/2019

Effects of massage: Why my nose gets blocked during massage?

'Oh my God, I got a cold again during the massage.'  - I have heard many times from the clients.

Actually, it is really unlikely.

The massage therapists are also sensitive for the cold, so they don't like to give a massage in cold. The massage room’s temperature ideally is approximately 22 °C (72°F). Of course it can be slightly colder or warmer, but around 22 °C (72°F) would be recommended. If the room’s temperature is lower than that, the massage therapist feels cold too, so the therapist’s hands become colder and that is not beneficial for any of the participants.

If the room is warmer than the recommended, then the massage therapist might struggle to do the physical activity. Both, remedial massage and the sports massage means extensive physical work. Apart from those, the towels that are used to cover the client during the massage always can come handy and if the client feels cold simply more towels are used.

The fact that the blocked or running nose goes away roughly an hour after the massage had finished also proves that no one catches cold during massage. The truth is that however, the massage has many healing effects is still cannot cure flu in 1 hour.

Alright, but then what happened?

To find the answer we need to look at the effects of massage. Certain type of massage (such as Swedish massage or lymphatic drainage) has more significant effect on the blood and lymphatic circulation, therefore has a higher chance of causing blocked or running nose. The length of the massage or the position of the body also influences the “symptoms”.

It is less likely to have blocked nose after a 10 min long relax chair massage, but after an hour long treatment when the client lies on the massage table with the head facing down in the head rest, certainly there is a much higher chance to have blocked nose.

As a result of the massage (in the body) increases the lymphatic fluid and venous blood flow back into the heart, then the heart will pump these fluids out again back to the rest of the body. The blood pressure will increase temporarily until the kidney will start filtering the excess fluids. (This is the reason why we have to pee after massage.)

The connecting tissues can also become swollen slightly as a result of increased fluids flow. This kind of connecting tissue is in the nose too. One of the reasons, why our nose can be blocking, because the mucosa is getting swollen too.

Another reason is that in the face skull there are several hollow areas functioning as an air warming and humidifying channel to protect the lung. These areas are easy to clean if we bend our head forward. Usually we sit or stand, our neck is straight and our head is facing forward. (Alright, the bad habits of the modern age are exceptions – looking at a small mobile device meanwhile not paying attention to anything else around us and bumping into a lamp posts or ending up on a truck’s grill does not count as natural position – certainly in those situation the neck is not straight and we are not looking/facing forward. If we are standing sill and just waiting for somebody in the mentioned position it will only cause neck problems… But that is another story…)

Lying on the massage table helps the previously mentioned hollow areas to start getting cleaned which causes the nose feeling blocked. But being able to breathe is vital. If we are unable to do it through the nose we can try to do it through the skin like frogs or simply swap to oral breathing.

Of course, many people will attempt to blow their nose, but that is actually not a good idea. Blowing nose with the neck bended backwards will activate and make all the muscles (which the massage therapist previously relaxed) tense again. Trying/doing it in a sitting position is better but still not recommended. Because of our nose is blocked.

Where could it find a way to clean out to? The palate separates the nose from the mouth so that is not an option. The direction towards the throat cannot be considered either as that is occupied by the airflow from and to the lung which is also essential to be able to blow the nose. There is one more channel which is free leading to the middle ear and eardrum. The function of this channel is to protect the eardrum from the sudden/ high air pressure change.

This is a fairly clean and narrow channel closed by the eardrum. Blowing the nose with full power would press all the fluid and mucus into this narrow channel which easily could damage the eardrum or cause a very painful middle ear inflammation. None of those are considered as desired results. By the way, sneezing with pinched nose we risk exactly the same, which is a very bad habit. The speed of the moving air during sneezing can be as high as 150 km / hour (93 mile / hour).

Alright then, what can we do?

We can wipe our nose or swap to oral breathing. After the massage we have time enough to wipe our nose and within an hour from the end of the massage the nose will unblock naturally and the client can return to normal breathing. Then, and only then bending the neck forward and carefully blowing the nose can help to clean the nasal passage.

So that is it, no one was cold during the massage.