Benevolent Energies

Massage Contraindications

There are situations that need to be taken into consideration as a plan for a massage session is being prepared. The following is a list of the common things that need to be addressed as this preparation is being made. Adjusting the pressure to something very light may be all that is needed A partial massage may be indicated and there are many other modalities to choose from to accommodate specific needs. If you have a concern, you should speak with your physician prior to receiving bodywork.

1. Undiagnosed symptoms:
When symptoms like these are not diagnosed, massage could benefit or harm your body.
• Nerve pain
• Severe headaches
• Pain in the internal organs
• Numbness
• Inflammation
• Nausea
• Tremors


2. Compromised Immune Disorders or Contagious Conditions
These conditions have the potential to spread within the body and to the therapist.
• Impetigo
• Poison Ivy
• Blood or lymph diseases
• HIV or AIDS
• Organ Transplant
• Lupus

Cancer was once listed as a contraindication because it was thought that massage might cause cancer to spread but it has not been the case. Instead oncologists have found that massage is a very beneficial in cancer treatment. However if you have cancer and you want a massage, be sure you use a therapist who has had some training in oncology massage therapy. If you have had lymph nodes removed, you are at risk for lymphedema and a therapist would need to know about this. If you have lymphedema, a therapist trained in lymph draining could be helpful. Make sure the therapist stays away from areas that are undergoing radiation as the skin is more tender and it is best not to disturb that area of the body and the area around it. It is not recommended to have deep pressure during treatment as it could bring on flu like symptoms that could go on for days. Wait as much as a year after chemotherapy before you have deep again so you don't have to relive any of the pain.

3. Skin Afflictions
• Sunburn or Windburn
• Insect Bites
• Acne

4. Alcohol or Recreational Drugs
Massage releases and so increases the amount of toxins in the body. Alcohol and recreational drugs place a large stress on the liver. Doing both of these can make you very sick.
• Currently under the influence of alcohol or drugs

5. Medications
There are medications that may conflict with massage.
• Pain medication will keep you from knowing how much pressure is comfortable
• Aspirin thins the blood
• Anti-coagulants cause you to bruise and bleed easily
• Medications that dehydrate
• Over the counter medications for colds or flu that contain pain medications or dehydrating components

6. Inflammation
Receiving massage increases the amount of swelling, resulting in further damage to the tissue.
• Chronic or acute inflammatory disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis
• Acute inflammation of a joint
• Acute inflammation of a large injury resulting from an accident or surgery
• Edema as a result of pregnancy (toxemia) or organ disorder

7. Diseases of the Circulatory System
Massage results in the spread of disease, dislodging of a blood clot or increased work for the heart.
• Phlebitis
• Hematoma
• Thrombophlebitis
• Venous thrombosis
• Low or high blood pressure
• Heart disease
• Varicose veins (Spider veins are not contraindicated)
• Bruises (light work is okay once these turn greenish-yellow and are fading)

8. Fever
Massage increases the body temperature

9. Recent Heavy Exercise and Stress
Light massage relaxes. Deeper massage can over stimulate an already overstressed body.

10. Loss of Integrity
Tissue and structures that have lost their strength and resiliency could be easily damaged. Extra care must be taken by the therapist.
• Osteoporosis
• Thin and delicate skin
• Damaged joints
• Areas that have undergone surgery – unless specified by a physician, it is recommended to wait six weeks after surgery prior to receiving a massage.