To massage or Not to massage… that is the question

By Erica Thorneburg, LMBT 00183, CEAS I

A friend recently injured her back and massage was her natural go-to. But, as her husband was rubbing on the tiger balm, it occurred to her, “is this helping or hurting?”. When she asked me what I thought about it, I shared with her what I am about to share with you now…

Whether it was intuition or a question that arose out of feedback from her body while receiving a bit of hands-on healing from her thoughtful mate, what I heard was…

— the question IS the answer —

Something was telling my friend to question whether the massage was the right way to go. You might think of it as that still small voice, or you may imagine that the massage she was receiving was simply hurting more than the injury itself.

In reality, this is not so ambiguous. There is real science behind the reason my friend should avoid direct massage in this case. Undiagnosed pain and inflammation is recognized by licensed and registered massage therapists as a local contraindication.

Scheduling with a licensed therapist or just a little spot treatment from a willing loved one? Here is a quick reference to help you decide To Massage or Not to Massage…

For the best experience, always inform your therapist before getting on the table.

You can receive massage, just not over the area you are experiencing:

  • Varicose veins
  • Undiagnosed lumps or bumps
  • Pregnancy
  • Bruising
  • Cuts
  • Abrasions
  • Sunburn
  • Undiagnosed pain
  • Inflammation, including arthritis

Do NOT book a massage if you are experiencing total contraindications:

  • Fever
  • Contagious diseases, including any cold or flu, no matter how mild it may seem
  • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol-including prescription pain medication
  • Recent operations or acute injuries
  • Neuritis
  • Skin diseases

Your Physician’s approval is highly recommended before booking a massage, if you suffer from any of the following medical contraindications:

  • Cardio-vascular conditions (thrombosis, phlebitis, hypertension, heart conditions)
  • Any condition already being treated by a medical practitioner
  • Oedema
  • Psoriasis or eczem
  • High blood pressure
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cancer
  • Nervous or psychotic conditions
  • Heart problems, angina, those with pacemakers
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes
  • Bell’s palsy, trapped or pinched nerves
  • Gynecological infections

Every body comes with its own unique set of circumstances and while massage is generally safe and effective for aches and pains, there are times when it is not the best way to go.

For more information and a quick reference chart on Contraindications for Massage Therapy go to:

Your body is the wise healer…trust it!


If you found this article helpful, please click that little blue 💙 below. It helps more people see it.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.