There is no doubt that massage is wonderful. It has many positive health and wellness benefits. It’s relaxing, it feels great when you’re feeling not so great. That being said, there is also no doubt that people sometimes overlook/underestimate the risks of massage in certain situations.
The main culprit that can make massage a contraindication is its effects on the circulatory system. Pick a spot on your arm or hand where you can maybe see some good veins, then rub your hand down your arm towards that vein with about the pressure your massage therapist does. You’ll probably notice that it stands out more as you push, this is because you’re pushing the blood through that vein at a higher rate than normal.
When you’re getting a massage, we’re not just pushing muscle around, we’re pushing around all the things connected to those muscles. This includes the blood pumping around your veins, the fluids in your lymphatic system, and the other various hormones and chemicals floating around in your body.
It especially means that if your veins or circulatory system are compromised, massage could be a bad idea. We need to know if your bones are brittle, joint replacements, you have immune system problems, or you have herniated discs or spinal issues. In addition, serious infections, active illness such as the flu, and any disease with serious complications are a definite red flag when it comes to massage.
This is why it is necessary that you fill out the health history form before you begin your session. If you schedule online, the system has a great form that you can fill out right then to give me a heads up on any major health concerns. When you call for your appointment, I will ask you some general health questions to rule out any outright contraindications to massage.
I realize that it can feel awkward to share your health information with someone other than your doctor, especially if it’s someone you don’t know very well. However, it’s important to realize that while massage may seem like (and generally is) a pretty safe therapy, there really are cases where it can do more harm than good. Rest assured that I follow health information privacy guidance, and do not share your health information with anyone. The online form is HIPAA compliant, and I keep your intake forms locked up when unattended.
If you are under a doctor’s care, I will likely ask that you receive a written recommendation for massage. I like to make sure that they understand that massage is improving circulation and lymph flow, and that massage is not just purely for relaxation. I may ask you to talk to your cardiologist, endocrinologist, obstetrician, or other specialist you may be working with.
While it may seem awkward or annoying to have to answer these questions and communicate between your doctor and your massage therapist, it’s ultimately all about keeping you safe and healthy, as well as relaxed and pain free. If your doctor does not recommend massage, there are other options that may help you, include Reiki therapy, which does not physically manipulate the muscles or circulatory system
As with any wellness regimen, it’s important that all of your healthcare providers work together to ensure that you are receiving safe, effective care. If you have any concerns about privacy or your health issues related to massage, you can always contact me to discuss them!