There are times when massage therapy is not the right approach based on one’s condition or what they are going through at that current time. In our previous blog titled, “When Should I Not Get a Massage” we discussed instances when one should not get a massage. This article will elaborate further on when to not get a massage.

First Rule of Thumb:

“When in doubt, always ask.” You can and should always ask your Massage Therapist (MT) beforehand about any questions you may have or conditions you are facing. Your MT will be able to advise you on whether or not a massage is indicated and even on the time-frame for having one. MT’s are educated in certain health conditions. You can also always ask your Medical Doctor for advice on massage therapy based on your particular health plan as well.

Massage therapy is contraindicated (meaning – should not be done) if there is an active infection in the region being massaged. The massage can actually cause the infection to spread. People should also not get a massage if they are currently experiencing a fever. This can make the fever even worse. There are also certain skin conditions that should not be massaged over. These areas can be avoided; be sure to ask your MT beforehand so that they can advise you on this.

Massage Therapy and Health Conditions

Another contraindication for massage is if the person has active cancer; in general and especially in the region being massaged. Massage can increase blood flow and metabolic activity to the area of cancer, and possibly spread the condition to other parts of the body. There are instances where massage is still an OK option, such as when the person is in a great amount of pain and on hospice care, but should be discussed with the Medical Team and the Patient. It is important that the person is aware of all the pros and cons related to this.

Circulatory Conditions

Massage is also contraindicated if the person has a blood clot. Another word for this is “deep vein thrombosis.” The risk is that the massage may cause the blood clot to dislodge and travel to the lungs, thus causing a pulmonary embolism that could be life-threatening. Some indications of a blood clot are the person experiences extreme or deep pain in the limb, redness, swelling and changes in the skin in that region. Blood clots are common in the legs and arms as well. If you or your client is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to go to your doctor as soon as possible.

There are other heart and circulatory conditions that may be contraindicated completely or have certain precautions advised related to massage therapy. For example, if the person has a heart condition where an increase in blood flow to the heart may cause it to work too hard. In this case, massage is not indicated. When people with this condition get a massage, the increased blood flow and possibly lymphatic flow can overwhelm the heart muscle and can be detrimental and life-threatening. Anyone with known heart conditions should contact their Medical Doctor prior to a massage. If the person is given an OK for a massage, he or she should still speak to the MT beforehand about their condition, symptoms and limitations.

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