That depends on the type of massage and the depth of the strokes. A light massage that doesn’t probe very deep into muscles shouldn’t hurt. At the same time, the light massage won’t be able to work out any stress that’s deep within those muscles. A muscle that is relaxed will be supple and soft and won’t hurt when rubbed. Muscles that are tight, and in many cases have been chronically tight for a long time, may have that “good hurt” feeling with a deeper massage. Think of that “good hurt” as the feeling you get when you stretch a sore muscle during exercise or a yawn. Muscles can be very sore from overuse or tightness, and that “good hurt” can become painful. A sharp pain may indicate a muscle that has been injured and has some sort of inflammation. In this case, you don’t want the deep work to continue in this area. A deep massage with tight muscles may leave some residual soreness the next day.
Everybody has different thresholds of pain. The depth of a stroke may not be deep enough for one person’s liking and may cause pain for another. Some people want the massage as deep as possible regardless of the soreness. Others want something much lighter, more sensual and pleasing, to help them relax rather than deeper work that might be sore. So make your preference known to the therapist, and give feedback at any time during a massage that the depth of the strokes is more than you’d like.