Contraindication: something (as a symptom or condition) that makes a particular treatment or procedure inadvisable.

Massage therapy is generally safe and can be applied to a wide range of individuals at any age. Even so, there are certain conditions that are contraindicated. If you suffer from a certain illness or disease, massage therapy may exacerbate or worsen the condition. If you have localized problems, the therapist will avoid the area. If you suspect that massage might be contraindicated, be sure to talk to your doctor before scheduling an appointment with a massage therapist.


IMPORTANT:  When should I not have massage?

"Massage therapy is a wonderful and beneficial form of holistic health care.  Massage can provide stress relief, muscle tension relief, improve circulation, and the list goes on.  But massage can be detrimental to your health if you have certain physical conditions, illnesses, or disease.  You can also put your therapist at risk of contracting certain illness or disease if you are in a contagious state of health.

The term “massage contraindication” means you are not able to receive massage, or the massage may be limited to certain areas of your body. When you are contraindicated for a massage it is for your health and safety as well as the massage therapists.  Not all contraindications mean that you will never be able to have a massage.  There are two types of contraindications: local contraindications and absolute contraindications.


Local Contraindications

Local contraindications are conditions involving a pathology related illness/disease or an acute injury.  These conditions mean caution must be exercised and the massage must be adapted to the condition.  This is to ensure the safety of both the client and the therapist. For the client, the massage must be adjusted as to ensure it will not spread the condition, or further injure the client.  For the therapist, it is to ensure the therapist does not contract the disease.

If you have what is determined to be a local contraindication your therapist may require a doctor’s release before she will agree to provide you with a massage.  While some local contraindications only require that you and your therapist discuss the condition and tailor the massage accordingly.  In either case, it is the therapist that will make the final decision as to whether or not you will be able to receive the massage.  This is done to protect your health and safety as well as the massage therapist.

A massage may be adjusted for a local contraindication in several ways.  It can mean an area is to be avoided, such a the lower leg of a recently sprained ankle.  It can require that the pressure be adjusted during the massage.  The position in which the client is lying the massage table is adjusted, such as using a side lying position for pregnant women.  It can also mean the time allowed for the massage be adjusted.


Absolute Contraindications

Absolute contraindications are conditions where you cannot receive a massage.  Giving a massage to someone who has an absolute contraindication can result in serious health risks for the client and/or the therapist.

Not all absolute contraindications are permanent; meaning you may have a condition that, once it clears, you can receive a massage.  These conditions are typically an illness such as a viral infection.  Some conditions are permanent and unfortunately if you have one, you will not be able to receive massage.  In either case, as long as the condition is in an acute stage, you will be denied massage therapy.

Your massage therapist must be informed of these conditions.  This is one of the reasons you are required fill out a health history form when you enter a professional massage therapists office.


Still Not Sure?

While massage has many benefits certain conditions warrant caution.  If you are unclear about whether you can receive massage, talk to your massage therapist and your family doctor. They will both be happy to discuss this with you. Remember, if you are turned down for a massage because of a condition you have, it is because the massage therapist has your best health at interest."