Massage Contraindications: When A Massage Is A Bad Idea

You just booked a massage and are ready for some relaxation, but did you know that in some cases a massage can actually do more harm than good?

When making an appointment, what your massage therapist wants to know is if you are allergic to any of their products (like lotions and oils), but also…are you even a good candidate for massage therapy?

While massage therapy is typically safe and poses very few serious risks for clients, there are a few situations in which you may want to skip the massage in favor of another form of TLC.

Whether massage is locally contraindicated (it shouldn’t be performed in a particular area), or is medically contraindicated (it shouldn’t be performed at all due to a particular condition), it’s a good idea to share whatever may be ailing you before laying down on the massage table.

Keep reading to learn more about massage contraindications.

Temporary Massage Contraindications

Think of your massage therapist as a medical practitioner. Just as you would give your doctor your medical history and fill them in on any recent symptoms, you should do the same with your massage therapist.

When you’re feeling a little under-the-weather or recovering from an accident of some sort, self-care by way of massage may be tempting. Getting a massage while under the influence of illness or injury may be, however, the worst thing that you could do.

Here are a few signs that you should reschedule that massage therapy appointment:

Skin Conditions

  • Wounds or open sores
  • Burns
  • Rashes (especially if they are contagious)
  • Bruises
  • Frostbite


  • Cold or Flu
  • Fever


  • Recent surgery
  • Intoxication
  • Arthritis flare-up
  • Broken bones

Long-Term Massage Contraindications

Unfortunately, massage therapy just isn’t right for everybody. There are a few specific instances in which one should try other means to de-stress and reap the benefits that massage could provide.

If you have any of the following conditions, this is when massage is a bad idea:

  • Severe hypertension
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Tumors
  • Blood clots
  • Aneurysm
  • Varicose veins (but massaging around instead of on the area is OK)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hernia
  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Cancer (consult your doctor first)

Stay Healthy Before and After Massage

If you don’t have any massage contraindications, that’s great! Just remember that even if you go ahead with your massage, there are still a few steps you can take to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your session.

Treating your body well before and after your massage appointment can make sure that you’re in good shape for your next visit–and the rest of your day.

Here are a few quick tips:

  • Drink lots of water. Massage releases toxins in your body and the water can help flush them out. Drinking water can help prevent your muscles from becoming dehydrated.
  • Stay loose. Stretching and/or taking a hot bath or shower before a massage is great to prep your muscles for the work that your massage therapist is about to do. Also, skip the caffeine afterward to further prevent your muscles from tightening back up.

Have you ever considered starting a career in massage therapy? Learn more about the steps to becoming a massage therapist–and how long it takes.


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Author: anthonybart