Contraindications for massage
The definition of a contraindication for massage is a reason not to provide someone with a massage. A contraindication is something that massage may interact with negatively, for example, fever or severe pain.
There is a long list of contraindications for massage. To put it simply, if a patient presents with an absolute contraindication, under no circumstances should a massage be performed. For example, contagious diseases, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, severe pain, kidney disease, or a history of thrombosis are all considered absolute contraindications for massage.
It’s not all black and white though. There are varying degrees of indications and contraindications. Contraindications may be further defined as relative or absolute, general or regional. What’s more, they can be a combination of these. Let’s look at the main categories:
When something is considered an absolute contraindication, it means that the client should not be given a massage in that particular area no matter what the circumstances. For example, if someone had DVT (deep vein thrombosis) under no circumstances should the lower calf muscles be massaged.
When there is a level of caution or danger associated with a massage treatment, it is called a relative contraindication. With a relative contraindication, the massage may be performed, but simply modified to ensure the safety of the indicated area. This is typical where there has been a recent injury, or where there has been surgery. In these cases, a particular massage therapy treatment may be beneficial so long as it is performed by a knowledgeable and experienced massage therapist who knows how to avoid damaging the delicate tissues.
When a contraindication affects the entire body, it is known as a general contraindication.
If the contraindication affects only a localised area of the body is known as a local contraindication.
Indications and contraindications for massage – what you need to know this term sounds a little trickier than it is, but put simply; a condition may be any combination of local or general, and relative or absolute. For example, DVT is both local and, and an acute injury to the biceps insertion would be both relative and local.
If a patient wants to have a massage and has informed you that they have some contraindication, it’s a good idea for them to obtain medical approval from their doctor or physiotherapist before booking a massage therapy session. Depending on the condition, many massage therapy centres will insist on medical approval before commencement of the treatment. This is a sensible rule that covers both the practitioner and the patient. No matter what the condition is, however, it is essential that the patient always inform the massage therapist before treatment commences.
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Vicki Tuchtan is the Academic Director at Sage Institute of Education. She oversees learning processes, teaching outcomes, resources and course development. A passionate advocate for bettering standards of training in Australia, she is currently writing her PhD thesis on defining quality training in the Australian vocational education sector.