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Conditions That Require Modification to Massage

Updated on May 25, 2018
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Leeann Hysaw has earned 11 years of experience in massage therapy having graduated from Lincoln Technical Institute in 2007.

Why You Need to Inform Your Massage Therapist About Certain Conditions Prior to Massage.

When getting a massage people tend to hope for specific aches and pains to be relaxed away. Unfortunately, there are some aches and pains that indicate larger problems and sometimes the people seeking the massage have another condition, or are in a certain state, where massage may not be what’s best for them. Also, even more common, are instances where people have other conditions or circumstances that would require a massage session to be altered in some way. Sometimes clients do not tell a therapist about these things because they feel they would not get the whole massage if things were altered because of the condition but, these measures are important to ensure the person stays healthy and laves feeling better, not worse since there are certain conditions that can be worsened by massage. For instance, a person who suffers from neuropathy of the feet should avoid anything more than the lightest strokes in the feet, if they receive massage in the feet at all, because working the area too much can drastically worsen the pain and other symptoms associated with neuropathy. Also, many people do not inform their therapists about these conditions because they are not aware that they are things a therapist might need to know but it is very important to identify if something is significant and let your therapist know about it before booking a massage.

Short Example List of Things You Should Tell Your Massage Therapist

You should tell your therapist if you:

  • …wear contacts
  • …Have high blood pressure
  • …are pregnant
  • …have any skin conditions (rashes, sensitivities, eczema etc.)
  • …have a cold or the flu
  • … are under 18
  • …have diabetes
  • …suffered a recent death of someone close to you
  • …have been diagnosed with cancer
  • …have any medical devices
  • …have allergies
  • …have had any recent surgeries
  • … have recently given birth
  • …are on any medication
  • …suffer from severe or sudden pain brought on by recent trauma
  • …have just been involved in an accident (automotive or general)
  • …have any broken bones, separated tendons or sprained ankles
  • …recently suffered a concussion
  • …have neuropathy
  • …have any other medical condition that requires medicine and or doctors care (from acne to STD’S)


" is very important to identify if something is significant and let your therapist know about it before booking a massage."

What Contraindication Means

Many conditions on the list provided above represent reasons for a massage therapist to alter a massage while some may be reason to avoid the massage all together, or at least avoid a particular type of massage. These are called contraindications. Essentially, in the massage world a contraindication is a condition that massage may make worse. Sometime a person who has a condition may not be able to receive a massage but most of the time, if a therapist knows the facts ahead of time, a session can be altered with the condition in mind to prevent any problems. For example, a person books a hot stone massage and arrives for the session. While doing the intake the therapist learns the client has high blood pressure. Unfortunately, hot stone massage is contraindicated for high blood pressure, meaning high blood pressure can get worse during the session due to the intense heat of the stones raising blood pressure. It is the same reason why people with high blood pressure should not go in hot tubs or saunas. This can be disappointing for the client who was hoping for the hot stone session, however, a relaxational massage has been shown to help lower blood pressure so the client can still receive this type of massage instead. It is very important to know what massage techniques may be contraindicated for what ever condition you may have and to keep your therapist informed for this exact reason.

Conditions That Require Modification to Massage

When there are contraindication a therapist uses their knowledge to develop a plan in which they can, if possible, massage the client without aggravating the condition. Like the hot stone circumstance mentioned above there are other conditions in which a therapist can still perform the massage by modifying it, a woman who is pregnant can receive a pregnancy massage, a client with a skin disorder such as acne, eczema or poison ivy can have the therapist avoid the affected area, and someone on blood thinners can receive light relaxational work versus deep work that may cause bruising and other problems. Its is important that clients not be afraid of telling a massage therapist about these conditions because they are they’re for their health and safety and a therapist will do whatever possible to see that the client still receives a great massage.


" the massage world a contraindication is a condition that massage may make worse."

Contraindications That May Prevent You from Receiving Massage

Even though massage therapists try hard to find alternative ways to provide a massage to a client while accounting for any contraindications that may be present there are still times when the session cannot go forward for the client’s health and safety. This is another great reason why clients should be sure to let a studio know before booking the massage if any such contraindications may exist to avoid the disappointment of arriving for a massage they may not be able to receive. Some such contraindications that prevent a therapist with proceeding with massage would be if you have any sudden injuries like throwing your back out or getting in a car accident within less than 48-72 and in some cases, you may need to receive a doctor’s okay first. Other such circumstances would be if you have had a very recent surgery or are less than 12 weeks pregnant, though I have heard that on this last one it would depend on the discretion of the therapist but where I have worked it would be firm at 12 weeks. The biggest thing is to be sure that the clients are safe and healthy even if that means waiting to go ahead with the massage only with the consent of a doctor.

The Client's Health and Safety is the Most Important Thing

"The biggest thing is to be sure that the clients are safe and healthy even if that means waiting to go ahead with the massage only with the consent of a doctor."

Safety is the Goal of Understanding Contraindications

Whether a therapist is required to adjust a massage or unfortunately must ask you to come back another day it is always with you in mind. the body and a person’s health are very complicated things and thought a massage therapist is required to go through rigorous schooling and training, in most locations, they are not doctors and sometimes only a doctor can say whether a client is healthy enough for the physical manipulation of their muscles. To prevent any disappointment be sure to understand your own health, conditions, and any medication and inform the appropriate person before booking so they can let you know in advance if you should wait a bit, get a doctor’s note or if only the type of massage needs to be adjusted.


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