What are the Contraindications to Massage Treatment?

Gentle self-massage treatments are non-invasive, relaxing and natural. It is therefore generally considered a safe treatment for most people. Here is a list of contraindications and precautions to protect your health and well-being. If you are unsure about anything then you must contact your medical professional for advice first.

A contraindication is a situation when massage should not be performed. Continuing with treatment may be more detrimental than beneficial and in some cases may cause serious medical problems. Below we list a number of massage contraindications but do not claim it to be an exhaustive list. Always get professional advice.

Total Contraindications
(When massage should not be performed at all).

When you have any of these conditions, please do not self- massage:

  • Fever
  • Contagious diseases, including any cold or flu, no matter how mild it may seem
  • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol-including prescription pain medication
  • Recent operations or acute injuries
  • Neuritis
  • Skin diseases

Local Contraindications
You can massage but not over any areas affected by:

  • Varicose veins
  • Undiagnosed lumps or bumps
  • Pregnancy (unless qualified to do so)
  • Bruising
  • Cuts
  • Abrasions
  • Sunburn
  • Undiagnosed pain
  • Inflammation, including arthritis

Medical Contraindications
If you suffer from any of the following conditions, self-massage can only take place once it has been approved by your health care professional.

  • Cardio-vascular conditions (thrombosis, phlebitis, hypertension, heart conditions)
  • Any condition already being treated by a medical practitioner
  • Oedema
  • Psoriasis or eczema
  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cancer
  • Nervous or psychotic conditions
  • Heart problems, angina, those with pacemakers
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes
  • Bell’s palsy, trapped or pinched nerves
  • Gynecological infections

Does a contraindication mean that treatment cannot take place?
Not always. In fact, massage can be very therapeutic for many medical conditions. However, in the above cases it is best to have advice from your health care professional (e.g. GP. Physio, Nurse, consultant, advanced practitioner).

Open wounds - Any cuts, lacerations or grazes. Obvious really, but it has to be said. You should wait until the scar has properly formed. This is usually between one and two weeks.

Muscle ruptures - In the acute stage these may still be bleeding. Massage will increase bleeding and tissue damage and prolong recovery. After the initial 48 to 72 hours massage may be possible but it will depend on the extent of the injury.

Tendon ruptures - The above also applies to tendon injuries. Complete ruptures will need surgery, not massage.

Muscle and tendon partial tears - Massage may be suitable after a minimum period of 48 hours, longer for more serious injuries.

Infections of the skin and soft tissue - Bacterial infections, viral infections and fungal infections can be spread to other areas of the body. Pain may also result from the infection, not an injury so massage will not help.

Thrombosis - This is a rare but potentially lethal blood clot in a vein. It is common in the calf muscle area. A deep, sore pain in the belly of the muscle may be a thrombosis. If this is massaged, it may dislodge, travel up the veins and damage the heart.

Bleeding disorders such as heamophillia - Massage may cause damage to tissues and result in bleeding.

Tumours - If you are unsure of any lumps and bumps in the muscle or skin then leave well alone. Most often these lumps are muscle spasms or fatty tissue.

Absolutely anything else you are not sure of!


After care advice and what may occur after treatment?


During or following a treatment you may experience emotions that you have been bottling up or symptoms relating to illness or disease that may have been suppressed with medication. This healing crisis (a contra-action) is a normal, positive effect, especially if you have never had a treatment before or if your body is very stressed. Massage helps all body systems to function more efficiently.   With regular treatments and as a body starts to heal and re-balance, these after-effects will diminish.


Typical contra-actions may include:

  • Tiredness due to release of toxins encouraged by the treatment and the initiation of healing energies, which require the body to rest
  • Muscular ache and/or headaches the nerve fibres responding to the deep work that has been undertaken during treatment.
  • Erythema (reddening of skin) can occur which means oxygen and nutrients are being delivered around the body.
  • Heightened emotional state due to the positive release of deep-held feelings and emotions. Heightened emotions i.e.) tearful, happy, laughing.
  • Frequent urination due to stimulation of the lymphatic system
  • Changed sleep patterns you can fall asleep during the treatment, a state of relaxation may help you sleep better. Or you may experience insomnia or vivid dreams
  • Active bowels body systems, including the digestive one, will work better.
  • Spots may occur released toxins and hormones may surface through the skin, especially if you previously suppressed your skin condition.

Remember prevention is better than cure.


Regular self-massage treatments will help to prevent future stress accumulating. your social media marketing partner

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Soma Therapies Ltd
78 Norbreck Road
Thornton Cleveleys

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