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When NOT to Get a Massage? Contraindications to Massage Therapy

We believe massage therapy has the power to heal the body and soothe the mind, but when should you not be getting a massage? Let’s talk about that!


Contraindication is a super fancy word that means to prohibit one from doing a certain service or treatment. You can separate massage contraindications into two categories - physical and medical. Physical contraindications can include sunburn or other skin conditions, whereas medical contraindications are conditions such as fever or illness. Here are some common contraindications for therapeutic massage therapy:


Broken Bones -

I know what you’re thinking, why would anyone come in for a massage with broken bones? However, this is a common situation with clients who want to “accelerate their healing.” Let me be clear, massage therapy will not heal broken bones any faster. Our general rule is: if you’re in a cast, you’re not getting a full body massage. In some cases massage can make already existing injuries worse; this includes broken bones and fractures! When we do have clients with casts on, we always ensure to avoid this area as much as possible in your service. No, we will not massage your casts, guys, but we’ll happily sign them for you!


If you have experienced a recent injury, always ask your doctor prior to booking a massage if it’ll affect your healing process, and always inform your therapist of any serious injury you’ve experienced so we can best care for you!


Open Wounds -

This isn’t something we should have to say but we’re saying it: please let us know if you have open wounds prior to your service! Nothing is more startling to your therapist than lifting the sheet and seeing open wounds. While we use an incredibly gentle and scent-free massage oil, the oil we use can exacerbate open wounds. We do not want anybody bleeding out on our tables! To avoid this problem, if you do have open wounds or cuts, before your service wrap them in bandages and inform your therapist of your condition.


Sunburn -

It’s Florida, guaranteed you will have a sunburn at least once. However, please do not come in if you have a sunburn that covers more than a quarter of your body. We don’t mind a little sunburn on the face, but if your back’s literally a tomato? There’s no way that massage is going to be comfortable for us or you! Please do not tell us ‘It’s no big deal’ or ‘I can handle it’ because we will not be swayed.


Fever -

Fever is the leading sign of infection, so why get a massage when you could be home drinking chicken soup? In all seriousness, massage therapy increases circulation and this could make your fever worse and any infection in your body significantly worse. Nobody should be getting a massage if they’re displaying any symptoms of illness. If you’ve got the sniffles just give us a call and we’re happy to reschedule you when you’re feeling better!


In the meantime, to combat the aches and pains that come with illness, there’s a few at home remedies to try:


  • Try using a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus essential oils to combat headache pain associated with fever on a cold head compress. Stick this compress in the fridge for an extra burst of cold.


  • Stay hydrated, your body is going to get thirsty fighting any infection.


  • Rest, rest and rest! Stay in bed and sleep. Engaging the parasympathetic response, also known as “rest and digest,” encourages systemic healing.


Contagious Diseases -

Contagious diseases are easily transferred between people or in our case, from client to massage therapist. Being sick is uncomfortable and most contagious diseases come with assorted aches and pains that you might think could be relieved by massage therapy. However, we can’t recommend this more strongly, stay home if you’re unwell! You not only risk transferring your illness to our therapists (and then nobody gets a massage!) but to other clients as well. We have many clients who are over 65 or are pregnant and might not be able to fight off certain infections. Here are some self-massage techniques you can do when you’re ill to help relieve your discomfort:


  • Sinus Pressure -

  • 1) Get those hands nice and warm by either rubbing them together or running them under hot water

  • 2) Put your pointer fingers on either side of your nose with gentle pressure

  • 3) Rub in circles for about 30 seconds

  • 4) Repeat as needed


  • Sore Throat or Congestion-

  • 1) Jump in a hot, but not boiling, bath. You don’t want to be submerged in water so hot you cause increased inflammation or raise your temperature.

  • 2) Take between ½ cup and 1 cup of Epsom Salt (bonus points if it’s scented with lavender or eucalyptus to open those nasal passages!), dissolve in the bath.

  • 3) Submerge fully and attempt to float, this will relieve pressure throughout the body

  • 4) When you feel sufficiently warmed and relaxed, sit up and place both hands on either side of your neck

  • 5) With gentle, even strokes use both hands to stroke down the neck

  • 6) Repeat 5-6 times, you’re doing self lymphatic drainage!


  • Achy Muscles or Joints (Tennis Ball Method) -

  • 1) Grab that random tennis ball you have laying around

  • 2) Lay flat on the floor or lay vertically against a wall

  • 3) Place the tennis ball on the sorely affected area (NOTE: Do not use this method on wrists, knees or directly on the neck!)

  • 4) Roll along the floor or wall using your own weight to massage the affected area effectively.


  • Achy Muscles or Joints (Hot Sock Method) - Applying heat to sore muscles can be a great way to reduce tension and ease pain, here we’ll tell you how to make a heat pack from a sock and rice.

  • Grab a sock (bonus points if it’s fluffy) remember the larger the sock, the larger the heat pack.

  • Fill the sock with rice until full but still able to be closed.

  • Tie the top of the sock in a tight knot to secure the rice.

  • Place your new heat pack in the microwave for 30-45 second intervals until desired heat is reached, do not overheat as it can cause burns.

  • Apply the heat pack to sore and tight muscles to relieve tension and pain.

  • Some luxurious add-ins for your heating sock:

  • Essential Oils (Lavender, Peppermint, Eucalyptus or Vanilla)

  • Dried Herbs (Rose petals, lavender buds)


The bottom line: if you’re sick, stay home and try one of our at-home pain relieving methods until you’re feeling better!


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