In this world, nothing is without its risks. Massage therapy is no different. Most people view getting a massage as a safe activity. However, some things can go wrong. Keep in mind that the following risks are relatively low. More often than not, therapy sessions are completed without a hitch. With that being said, it’s important to keep them in mind the next time you’re thinking about scheduling a massage. Many of these risks have increased prevalence at massage parlors and spas because all of the equipment is shared.
Infectious Skin Disease
Like we said, that comfortable massage chair that you’re going to be using at the spa has been used hundreds, if not thousands of times before you. Who knows what types of infectious diseases the person who just left that massage room was carrying. While masseurs go to great lengths to keep things clean and sanitized, accidents still happen.
It’s a very real possibility that you could experience a staph infection. One of the newest strains of MRSA, the bacterium that causes staph infections, can be transmitted from skin-to-skin contact. To make matters worse, the bacterium can continue to thrive for many days on surfaces.
Most massage tables are covered in a slick material like vinyl or leather. The non-porous nature of the covering makes it the perfect environment for MRSA to stick around.
If you contract MRSA from your massage session, you may experience rashes and boils on the surface of your skin. Sure, those issues are uncomfortable and painful, but they’re not the worse thing that can happen. Staph infections are capable of entering your bloodstream and invade several organs. These types of infections are the most serious. They have the potential to be deadly.
These are one of the more common negative side-effects of getting a massage. With the way massages are performed, the surface of your skin is experiencing a lot of friction. That’s why oils and lotions are used. The fluid acts as a lubricant to let the masseur’s hands glide over your body unencumbered. However, that doesn’t always stop the skin from becoming slightly damaged during the session. Massage chairs may also cause rashes. While the massaging mechanism is covered, getting into an awkward position can result in chaffing or rashes.
Another reason why rashes occur is allergic reactions. At a spa, there are plenty of potential allergens lurking in those products. Chemicals, fragrances, and cleaning agents don’t react well to sensitive skin. So, you may want to reconsider using them if you’re prone to allergic reactions.
Massaging a part of your body with an unhealed wound in a big no-no. It’s true that massages are capable of breaking down scar tissue within your muscle tissue. But treating a wound that’s still fresh can do way more harm than good. In fact, any professional masseur will downright refuse to treat the area until it has fully closed and healed.
The biggest risk is ripping the wound open again. Whether you have a surgical incision or a flesh wound, there’s a chance that the massage could stop the healing process and put you back at square one. This applies to both professional massages and sessions in a massage chair. It’s important to wait until the wound is entirely healed before you treat it to a massage.
Risks Immediately After Surgery
There’s some contention among professionals about the risks and benefits of massage therapy after surgery. On one hand, it may help to prevent the buildup of scar tissue while also reducing your overall stress levels. On the other hand, you have the risk of reinjury.
You should never get a massage on the affected area immediately after surgery. The incision point is essentially an open wound that’s just waiting to be reopened. The key to recovery is to taking things easy and avoiding overexertion that could tear the stitching apart. If you do plan on getting a massage, make sure that you avoid the incision site completely.
Using Blood Thinners
Blood thinners are a form of medication that’s meant to treat high blood pressure. They keep blood clots from forming and help your blood circulate through your arteries without any issues. While they can do a lot to keep you healthy, they do have some side-effects.
One is that they make you more prone to bruising and bleeding. It’s important to exercise caution when getting a massage. Those on blood thinners have a higher risk of internal bleeding from the pressure that’s being applied to the body.
Earlier, we talked about how massages can help to lower your blood pressure and improve your circulatory system. While this remains true, there are some risks involved if you already have high blood pressure. There’s always a possibility that you could experience a circulatory ailment, such as blood clot.
People with high blood pressure often have plaque within their arteries. It’s essentially hardened clumps of fat and cholesterol. They attach to the walls of the arteries, making it difficult for blood to flow. During a massage, the pressure that’s applied could theoretically dislodge that plaque and form a blood clot.
Those with deep vein thrombosis are at a higher risk of blood clots because the affected veins are deep within the body. Deep tissue massages can easily put pressure on those veins.
Some other issues you could experience include phlebitis and varicose veins. Both of these issues revolve around direct trauma to the vein. With varicose veins, a damaged valve can result in blood flow stopping altogether. Instead of moving out the vein, it will pool inside it, resulting in that bulging and discolored appearance. Phlebitis is also caused by damage. However, it results in inflammation.
Inflamed or Infected Injuries
Injuries that are inflamed or infected should not be subjected to the pressure from a massage. Whether you’re being massaged by a chair or the hands of a professional, the movements and pressure of the massage can irritate the affected area even more. Massages work wonders when your muscles are inflamed under the skin. But when it’s near the surface, you’ll want to leave it untouched.
Areas That are Bleeding and Heavy Tissue Damage
Generally, it’s a good idea to avoid getting a massage if you are bleeding or have heavy tissue damage. Bleeding injuries require time to heal. Clots need to form to stop the flow of blood. The constant friction of a massage will prevent this from happening. Any coagulation that has already occurred could be broken, resulting in continued bleeding.
When it comes to heavy tissue damage, there’s always the risk of making things worse. Serious muscle tears could be made worse with pressure. On top of that, the massage may not feel that great when you’re dealing with a severe injury that requires medical attention.
At the Sites of Recent Bruises, Sprains, and Fractures
Massages can actually help fractures and sprains heal by improving circulation and muscle tone. However, that’s only true if the injury has had some time to heal first. Getting a massage too soon is not recommended. Like other injuries, the effects of deep tissue manipulation can set the healing process back.
The same goes for bruising. Bruises are burst capillaries underneath the skin. The last thing you want to do is apply even more pressure to the capillaries when the bruise is fresh. Give it some time and let the issue heal before you hop on your massage chair.
Immediately After Chemotherapy or Radiation
Radiation and chemotherapy are very taxing on the body. People will experience not only nausea but also overall weakness and body pains. Massages can indeed help reduce nausea. But, the massage needs to be done before the treatment session. Doing so afterward can lead to some problems.
You see, cancer patients have fewer red and white blood cells after radiation and chemotherapy. So, if they were to get a deep tissue massage, there’s a good chance that they will get bruises over the treated area.
TIP: Get Your Doctor’s Approval Before Opting for a Massage Chair
For better or for worse, massages can have a big effect on your overall health. Before you purchase a massage chair, clear it with your doctor first. They understand the health risks involved and know about your current circumstances better than anyone else. If using the massage chair could be detrimental to your well-being, your doctor will provide their professional guidance.