General and Local Contraindications in Massage

no massageDid you know there are times when you should NOT have a massage? Trained and certified massage therapists know a lot about pathologies (diseases) and other conditions where massage isn’t recommended. They also know the difference between two very important types of contraindications. Do you?

There are two main types of contrindications. A general contraindication means that because of some kind of illness, injury or condition, you should avoid receiving massage under any circumstance. A local contraindication means you should avoid receiving massage on a specific part or parts of your body.

General contraindications

Sometimes, massage may cause a condition to worsen or have some kind of negative impact on the recipient. These circumstances call for the recipient to delay or cancel massage sessions because of general contraindications. Some well-known general contraindications include:

  • systemic contagious or infectious diseases, including the common cold
  • acute conditions requiring first aid or medical attention
  • severe unstable hypertension
  • significant fever
  • nausea/vomiting or diarrhea
  • severe pain

Sometimes these are referred to as “absolute contraindications”.

Local contraindications

Here are some conditions where massage is locally contraindicated, meaning just the area impacted by the condition should be avoided, but you can receive massage on other parts of your body:

  • acute flare-ups of inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • recent surgery
  • recent burns, including sunburn
  • deep vein thrombosis or varicose veins
  • aneurism
  • frostbite
  • open sores or wounds
  • malignancies

Sometimes these are referred to as “relative contraindications”.

Many of the conditions above may not be immediately evident to your therapist. Remember, massage therapy does not constitute medical treatment and is not a substitute for a medical examination or diagnosis. If you are dealing with a serious health condition check with your health care provider before seeking massage therapy and make sure you inform your massage therapist of any health conditions that may affect the work.