When Is It Not Safe To Have A Massage?

Category: Health
Last updated on: 12/07/2018
Stop sign indicating when not to receive a massage

Massage is a relaxing, natural and moderate body therapy and accordingly is considered a safe treatment for the vast majority of people. In a generally healthy person, there are hardly any circumstances in which a massage treatment, carried out with reasonable care and attention, could cause an unfavourable medical condition. There are however certain circumstances in which your massage should be specifically adjusted or even avoided altogether.


Cautions To Massage

When there is a 'caution to massage', this usually means your masseuse can still proceed with the massage treatment but she will need to modify the style applied to take account of certain specific conditions. This is usually not a serious issue at all. Cautions to massage are quite common. For example you may have recently recovered from an illness and still be feeling weak so your therapist may decide to apply a light, softer pressure than usual throughout to ensure there is no discomfort to you. Massage should never hurt too much or for too long. Or, if you have been very stressed and anxious your therapist may make an extra effort to lend a listening ear and be aware that you might be more sensitive emotionally.


Local Contraindications

In such cases a massage can still be performed but a specific area (or areas) must not be massaged at all. A good example of a local contraindication is where the client has suffered a fracture, for example a broken arm from falling whilst playing a sport. In this case, your therapist would not massage the broken arm but would be able to massage the rest of your body. In cases of local contraindication, massage often helps provide much needed relief and comfort for other areas of the body, which may have been overused and exhausted from compensating for the lack of normal ability arising as a result of the injury.


Total Contraindications

Although most of us are completely fine to receive a massage throughout most of our lives, there are some circumstances during which it is not appropriate to receive a massage at all. Examples include recent cardio-vascular conditions such as a recent heart attack, disorders of the nervous system such as stroke, meningitis or brain tumours, as well as a range of infectious skin disorders. In these, and various other conditions, massage is often totally contraindicated and therefore you should not book or request a massage. Other than infectious skin disorders, many of these conditions are serious and life threatening and you would likely be in regular contact with medically trained professionals who would advise you accordingly in respect of the inappropriateness of receiving massage whilst undergoing treatment for the condition. 

Massage is also not recommended during the first trimester (12 weeks) of pregnancy, during which it may not be safe. Massage is however regarded by most medical professionals as very safe and even helpful after the initial 12 week period. We suggest that whilst pregnant you always check with your doctor or midwife about getting a massage, so that they can assess and advise on your personal situation throughout the period of your pregnancy.

Our online booking form contains a comments box where you can state any medical conditions. Your massage therapist will consider these conditions and also carry out a brief consultation with you before starting the treatment to assess whether any cautions or contraindication exist.


For further guidance on the principles that underlie the contraindications to massage, Pro's Choice have published a helpful article. However, if you have any doubts at all about your suitability to receive a massage, we strongly recommend that you consult with your doctor and take their advice before booking any type of massage treatment. 

If you are currently totally contraindicated for receiving massage, note that it is often the case that you will be able to return to enjoying massage treatments once the contraindicated condition has cleared up and an appropriate recovery time passed.


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