A Massage is Always the Answer – Well, Not Really Under Certain Circumstances

Tips and Tricks of Massage Therapy
By: Julie Keating

Who doesn’t love a relaxing massage? Massage therapy is an excellent way to rejuvenate, relax, and aid in muscle healing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t times when a massage might be counter to what your body needs. Under certain conditions and circumstances, it is best to wait before heading for an appointment. Otherwise, you might inadvertently do more harm than good! So if you are asking, “Are there times when I shouldn’t have a massage?” The answer is “Yes”.

Times When You Shouldn’t Have a Massage

In general, it is never a good idea to have a massage when you are experiencing acute illness or injury. Having a fever, feeling dizzy or nauseated, recently involved in an accident that produced trauma, or when you have wounds, rashes, or sunburn are all times when you should forego massage. It is best to allow whatever is happening to stabilize. For acute illness, it is also a good idea to get clearance from a medical provider to ensure that massage is the best fit to aid in the recovery process versus potentially causing more inflammation and irritation. 

What Should I do if I have a Specific Condition?

Whether you have an acute or chronic health condition, it is highly critical to find a massage therapist who is both aware of your condition, and also has an understanding of how best to treat the symptoms. The goal of massage therapy is to alleviate symptoms and aid in the healing process, so finding a professional massage therapist who has advanced training will ensure that they know how to effectively reduce your symptoms.

Before you make an appointment for massage, make a list of your medical conditions, along with any medications you are taking, so they have a clear understanding of both what is going on and what symptoms you are looking to address. Your therapist should always know if you are under the care of a medical professional for health management, therefore, the more information that you provide, the better the massage will target your issues, while also keeping you safe.

Chronic symptoms that are being effectively managed if they are:

  • Predictable and consistent, meaning that you understand what alleviates them versus what irritates them
  • Managed effectively with medications
  • Stabilized and tested according to activities performed
  • Managed with things like exercise and diet

Chronic symptoms that are not managed or under control if you:

  • Are just understanding what makes them worse versus better
  • Balancing medication and your activities 
  • Notice that your symptoms are unpredictable

Conditions That you Should Disclose to Your Massage Therapists

Often, patients don’t disclose very important information believing that it isn’t relative. When it comes to the human body, any symptom or condition, chronic or acute, is important for a massage therapist to be made aware of. Specifically disclose:

  • Skin conditions that are contagious like warts, herpes, or boils
  • Skin conditions that affect your sensitivity like sunburn, sores, or rashes
  • Issues of the circulatory system like varicose veins, high blood pressure, or history of stroke
  • Issues of the digestive system like IBS, colitis, and ulcers
  • Excessive swelling or edema
  • Issues of the endocrine system like thyroid dysfunction or diabetes
  • Musculoskeletal conditions like fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or osteoporosis
  • Immune or lymph issues like HIV-AIDS or chronic fatigue
  • Conditions of the nervous system like Parkinson’s disease
  • Asthma or respiratory issues
  • Other conditions like cancer, migraines, or pregnancy

What Other Precautions Should you Take?

There are a host of conditions that might be negatively affected by massage if the massage therapist is unaware. If you are under a doctor’s care for any medical issue or concern, that is something that you should make your massage therapist aware of. And if serious enough, the massage therapist might ask for you to obtain clearance for everyone’s safety. 

When your massage therapist knows and understands your acute or chronic concern, they can effectively find ways to avoid worsening your sensitivity and pain, while also targeting specific ways to enhance the healing response to get you on the road to recovery quicker. Lastly, if you are allergic to any types of creams, lotions, oils, or cleansers, it is best to let them know so they can refrain from using them, or find alternatives before you arrive.

Although massage is one of the best ways to alleviate the pain of a lot of conditions, as well as expedite the healing process, it is not always the answer. If you are wondering, “Are there times when I shouldn’t have a massage?” The answer is “Yes”. Most importantly, if you are concerned about whether it is a good idea or not, make sure to thoroughly discuss your issues and symptoms before making an appointment. My job is to make your condition better, and if we work together, a massage will be just what the doctor ordered. Make your appointment today!