Contraindications (when to avoid massage therapy)
Whilst massage is generally safe, there are some conditions when you should not have a massage.
There are 2 types of contraindications that you should be aware of :
General contraindication means that you should not have massage at all because there may be some illness, injury or condition that could be made worse by having a massage. Also if there is any possibility that a condition is contagious and could be spread, then massage should be avoided. Local contraindication means that massage should be avoided on specific parts of the body.
Sometimes, massage may cause a condition to become worse, or could have some sort of negative affect to the recipient. Some well known contraindications are:
- Systemic contagious or infectious disease– the common cold is a good example. The body has an infection which it is fighting. Massage could spread that infection further around the body, therefore making you feel worse. As it is also contagious, there is a risk that it could be spread to the massage therapist or other clients. Allergies and skin irritations should also be taken into consideration.
- Acute conditions that require first aid or medical attention– Deep cuts, broken bones or fractures, breathing difficulties, heart problems and acute pain are all examples. You should consult a Doctor or health care provider immediately if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
- Severe unstable hypertension ( high blood pressure)– Massage has the effect of moving the blood around the body, therefore could increase blood pressure. If your blood pressure is already high, then there is a risk that massage could increase the blood pressure further, which could have affect the body in a negative manner. If you have high blood pressure, you should consult your Doctor, or health care provider, and get it under control before having a massage.
- Significant fever- A fever indicates that there is something in the body that the body is fighting. You should consult your Doctor or health care provider if you have a fever that last more than a day.
- Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea– There is nothing worse than lying on a massage table, and needing to vomit , or worse rush off to the toilet in a hurry. Not only is there a likely chance that what you have is contagious, but it can be uncomfortable as well.
- Severe pain– One of the main purpose of massage is to relax the muscles. If you are in pain, then the body will not respond well to massage. Any unexplained pain should be treated by a Doctor or health care provider.
- Severe bruising– Bruising indicates that there is bleeding under the surface of the skin. The blood needs time to clot and start to heal. Therefore the application of massage within 48 hours could cause the bleeding to start again. In cases of severe bruising, an ice pack, or ice wrapped in a cloth, should be applied as soon as possible, a compression bandage applied and the affected area should be elevated above the heart. You should also rest in order to allow the body to work to heal itself.
There are some conditions where massage is locally contraindicated, meaning only the area that is actually affected should be avoided, bu massage can be applied to other parts of the body.Some of these conditions include:
- Acute flare ups of inflammatory conditions – Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or any other inflammatory condition. Massage should be avoided when the condition is in acute stage.
- Recent surgery– With surgery, there is often the need to cut the skin, muscles and tendons or other organs. The pressure from the massage has the potential to open up wounds that may be healing. It is recommended not to have massage for at least 6 weeks after having surgery. In severe cases, you should seek approval from your Doctor or health care provider before having massage therapy.
- Recent burns, including sunburn – apart from being painful, there is a possibility with any open wound for bacteria to enter the body. It is not recommended to massage around the affected areas. If the wound is local, then massage may be performed on other parts of the body, providing that there is not infection in the system.
- Deep vein thrombosis and varicose veins – A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in the veins, usually in the leg. If a blood clot is dislodged then it can travel into the heart or lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism(PE), which can be fatal. Symptoms of a DVT may include pain, swelling, redness or warmth to the affected area. In many cases no symptoms are present. If you think you may have a DVT, you should consult your Doctor or medical professional immediately. Varicose veins are gnarled, enlarged veins. Any vein may become varicose, but the veins most commonly affected are those in your legs and feet. That’s because standing and walking upright increases the pressure in the veins of your lower body. Light massage may be performed over varicose veins, or avoided completely if painful.
- Whiplash or neck injuries – Any injury to the neck should be treated with caution. If there is any likelihood of a whiplash injury, you should consult a Doctor or medical professional immediately, as there could be fractures present.
- Malignant cancers, cancers of the blood – There is a chance that massage could spread the cancer in the body. An approval should be given from your Doctor or specialist as to whether massage is allowable.
Many of the conditions listed above may not be immediately evident to your massage therapist. Massage therapy does not constitute medical treatment, and is not a substitute for a medical examination or diagnosis. If you are experiencing any of the above health conditions, you should check with your Doctor or health care provider before seeking massage therapy. Always inform your massage therapist of any conditions that may be affected by the treatment