Most people are great candidates for the relaxation and health benefits of massage therapy. However, there are times when a massage may not be the right choice. Certain conditions contraindicate massage, either because of the risk it may pose to the client or to the therapist.
For example, if you have a cold, flu, or other contagious viral or bacterial infection, your therapist may decline to work with you because they don't want to catch a cold. Most importantly, they don't want to risk passing the infection to other clients.
"When you have a cold or flu, a massage might seem comforting," says Patricia Coe, DC, ND, clinic supervisor for National University of Health Science's massage therapy program. "However, when you have an infection, your body is already working hard to fight it and recover. A massage can be very stimulating internally and place certain demands on your body during a time when you should be simply resting."
Another occasion when a massage should be postponed is if you are intoxicated. Many folks seek out massage while on vacation or under stress. They may have also had a few cocktails to relax as well. "Intoxication is a risk during massage," says Dr. Coe, "primarily because it desensitizes you. This makes it hard for you to give your therapist reliable feedback. A massage therapist needs to know what level of pressure is comfortable and what is too much. If you're intoxicated, those sensations are unreliable."
"An acute injury is also likely to be a contraindication to massage," says Dr. Coe. "Although it may seem like a great idea to get a massage immediately after straining a muscle, if there is damage to the area, massage may actually interfere with the healing process."
"A good therapist will guide the discussion on your health issues so that they can determine the right technique for you and whether or not a massage is contraindicated for you that day," says Dr. Coe. "Always let your massage therapist know of any health issues, or any medications you may be taking, prior to a massage. A massage therapist may ask to consult with your physician if he or she is concerned about how massage will affect your condition."
"The healing benefits of massage therapy are many, and it is fairly rare to encounter situations where massage is contraindicated for very long," according to Dr. Coe.
To make an appointment for massage or a health consultation on whether massage therapy is a good option for you, call the NUHS Whole Health Center - Lombard at 630-629-9664.