Contraindications for Massage

In order for the massage therapist and the client relationship to work properly, clear communication is necessary. If the client has any medical conditions, recent injuries or surgeries, or regular medications, the massage therapist needs to be informed prior to the massage treatment.

Below is a list of conditions that you should make your massage therapist aware of immediately.  In doing so, you are ensuring your safety and providing the massage therapist with valuable information that will allow them to provide you with safe, effective massage care.

Inflammation: Massage can further irritate an area of inflammation. Inflamed conditions include anything that ends in –itis, such as: phlebitis (inflammation of a vein), dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), arthritis (inflammation of the joints), and so on. In the case of localized problems, you can still receive massage, however, avoiding the area inflammation itself.

Fever: When you have a fever, your body is trying to isolate and expel an invader of some kind. Massage increases overall circulation and could therefore work against your body’s natural defenses.

High blood pressure: High blood pressure means excessive pressure against blood vessel walls. Massage affects the blood vessels, and so people with high blood pressure or a heart condition should receive light, sedating massages, if at all.

Infectious diseases: Massage is not indicated for any person who is currently under care for an infectious disease, is actively fighting an infectious disease or has reason to believe they are infectious.  This can be something as common as the influenza virus (the flu), or more serious conditions such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis or pertussis (whooping cough).

HIV infection: Some people still think of AIDS as something that can be “caught” through simple skin-to-skin contact, but most of us know that’s not the case. If there is no exchange of bodily fluids (blood, semen, vaginal fluids, or mother’s milk), HIV can’t be transmitted during massage. So, HIV infection is not contraindicated for this reason. However, some infections that people suffering from the later stages of AIDS experience are contraindicated, and you should avoid receiving massages. Loving, soothing contact is extremely important for people at any stage of infection, but in the case of any visible rashes, sores, lesions, or swelling, massage may be contraindicated.

Hernia: Hernias are protrusions of part of an organ (such as the intestines) through a muscular wall. It’s not a good idea to try to push these organs back inside and surgery is often required.  Massage is not indicated on or around the hernia.

Osteoporosis: More common in elderly people, this is a condition in which bones become porous, brittle, and fragile. Many types of massage may be too intense for this condition.

Varicose veins: Massage directly over varicose veins can worsen the problem. Make your massage therapist aware of any areas of concern as it relates to your veins.

Broken bones: Stay away from an area of mending bones. A little light massage to the surrounding areas, though, can improve circulation and be quite helpful.

Skin problems: Conditions such as rashes, wounds, bruises, burns, boils, blisters, and cuts or lesions for example. Usually these problems are local, so massage may be administered in other areas of the body.  As massage therapists usually do not wear gloves, skin conditions and precautions taken by the therapist are necessary.  Please make your therapist aware of any areas of concern.

Cancer: Cancer can spread through the lymphatic system, and because massage increases lymphatic circulation, it may potentially spread the disease as well.  Always check with your doctor before receiving a massage if you are undergoing treatment for cancer.

Other conditions and diseases: Diabetes, asthma, and other serious conditions each has its own precautions, and you should seek a doctor’s opinion before receiving massage.