People undergo various types of massage as supplementary therapies which can help them to reduce stress, pain, and discomfort. However, in some cases, this very relaxing therapy can itself cause injuries or aggravate the pre-existing ones. In this article, we will review a number of medical complications that may occur during a period of massage therapy, why they occur, and how we can prevent them.
How May Massage Therapy Create Problems
There are a number of reasons for which you may get hurt during massage therapy. A few of them are:
- Lack of required training for massage therapist
- Lack of proper supervision during the therapy
- Lack of provision of sanitary massage facilities such as massage tables, chairs, and sheets
- Malpractice of massage movements and over-stimulation of the client’s nervous system
- Ignorance toward the client’s medical history or the necessary pre-massage evaluations
- Malfunctioning or inadequately preserved massage equipment
- Lack of proper communication between the client and the therapist while the massage is being conducted
Do the Adverse Effects of Massage Therapy Depend on the Massage Type
Yes! A number of special massage types are applied with firmer pressure and are more likely to cause injury to your muscles or joints if they are carried out in an incorrect way. Trigger point massage, deep tissue massage, shiatsu massage, back walking massage, athletic massages, and similar massage types can cause injuries. In cases with too much pressure and stimulation, there is a risk of more serious injuries such as fracture, tissue tears, or blood clots. These conditions are rare but still possible if appropriate measures are not taken.
What Preventive Measures Should Be Taken in Order to Avoid Problems
Similar to any type of treatment, massage therapy is not zero-risk. In case you become a victim, you can file a lawsuit against your massage therapist, the clinic’s specialists and owners, as well as other operators involving with the massage you received. In addition, you can also have your massage therapist and massage clinic financially compensate for causing the injury. However, it is logically safer to avoid any problem at all!
If you have any special medical issues (such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, blood clots, weak bones or osteoporosis) or simply have problems with firmer pressure and strokes, you should avoid massage types such as deep tissue massage or athletic massages, and enjoy a shorter and lighter type such as chair massage.
What Is Chair Massage and Why is it Safer
Chair massage is a massage type conducted on a special chair while you are seated with your face toward the back of the chair while the weight of your body and arms are supported. Also, your face is placed in a padded cradle that supports the weight of your head. During this massage type, your arms, shoulders, upper back, neck, and hands are exposed to be massaged.
During chair massage, your special position and the angle the therapist can stand and work on your body do not usually allow for harder pressure which can cause injury. Having almost all your clothes on also reduces the risk of skin allergy to any massage oil or lotion. Moreover, it also decreases the possibility of skin infections due to unsanitary massage equipment.
Other than lower risk of skin complications, the massage is not a full body and it is mostly performed not to treat any serious issues but to make you feel more relaxed after long hours of walking or sitting in an improper position – that is why you probably see chair massage facilities in crowded and busy places such as airports, malls, exhibitions, and events, or even at work offices.
On the whole, mind that one of the most sensitive and vulnerable areas of your body is around your spinal accessory nerve that includes your upper back, neck, and shoulders, the parts which are mostly exposed to a chair massage therapist. Chair massage is usually intended to make you feel relaxed after a busy and stressful day; therefore, make sure that no too firm or too painful motions or strokes are applied during the massage. Be as communicative as possible with your therapist during massage therapy and immediately stop him/her if you feel any extra pain or discomfort.
What to Consider Before Having a Chair Massage
First and foremost, you should not consider your massage therapy as your “only” treatment. It is basically a supplementary therapy that cannot replace any medical treatment, especially for chronic injuries or diseases. Take the necessary measures before starting your massage therapy. Consult your physician or specialist and ensure that you choose the massage therapy which is right for you and your needs.
If you have recently undergone any special treatments for serious medical issues, such as recent surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, low blood platelets, other blood disorders or bleeding issues, etc. it would be preferable if you totally avoid any massage type. And if you want to have it anyway, make sure that you have it done under the direct supervision of a specialist. Moreover, you should be careful not to apply any massage type directly on areas of recent fractures, bruises, tumors, inflamed or infected skin, blisters, burns, ringworm, unhealed wounds, and abdominal hernia.
A Summary of General Safety Points to Consider Before Any Massage Type
- Make sure that you have no current medical issues or old injuries/problems that contradict with the therapy.
- Seek a proper massage clinic and a professionally trained and certified massage therapist.
- Inform the massage clinic and massage therapist of any type of medical complications you already have.
- Be as communicative as you can with your therapist while the massage is being performed. If you feel too much pain, stop your therapist immediately and let him/her know about your discomfort.
- For most of the massage types a little soreness, pain, inflammation, bruising, tenderness, redness, nausea, or lightheadedness is normal and should be vanished in a few hours to a few days after the massage. However, if the side effects continue for a longer time, visit a specialist for further checkup.