Local massage contraindications


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Local massage contraindications relates to health conditions that need physicians permission or special considerations need to be thought about before massaging. Sometimes interchanged with the term relative contraindications.

There are some instances where massage shouldn't be done at all called  absolute massage contraindications 

For general information about massage contradications and additional points about them. 

Massage endangerments assists in learning additional massage safety pertaining to areas of the body you need to be more careful around while massaging.

Additionally, the contraindications for each massage stroke can be found here Effleurage Petrissage Friction Massage Tapotement Vibration 

I don't sell them on this site, but books can be purchased that gives more detailed information about local massage contraindications

Local massage contraindications

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

If this has been diagnosed. If not, if you have abdominal or back then please seek medical advice. Always be sure of what problem you may be dealing with.


If it's not inflamed then go ahead and massage providing no other local massage contraindications, or otherwise exist. Err on the side of gentle. No unnecessary joint movements. The trick here is to relax the muscles without inflaming them or the joints. Remember muscles cross joints so the more relaxed and lengthened they are the more joint space is available for joints to move right. It's all about balance. Rheumatoid arthritis get physician approval.


If it is severe then it's a massage contraindication period. Otherwise, avoid the back of the calf (posterior tibial artery), back of the knee (popliteal artery), the inside of the thighs (femoral artery), armpit area (axillary artery), the soft part of the upper inside of the arm (brachial artery), lower arm (radial artery), the front part of the neck (temporal artery – anterior triangle – see massage endangerments

Bone Fractures

Avoid the area. Wait until physician has approved for the area to be massaged. Remember some muscles are longer than others, so depending on where the fracture is located, the area of this local massage contraindication can be larger than you think. It's possible to be irritating the area from a distance. Common sense.


Do not massage directly over a recent bruise or if it's painful or tender in any way. Older bruises are fine (ones that are on the tail end of being almost gone or non existent) to massage using flushing effleurage strokes, so long as it's not painful or other absolute or local massage contraindications exist. For those with vascular problems it's probably best to leave alone altogether. Massaging around the area will be beneficial. Remember massage is designed to work with the body. The peripheral effects produced are better than nothing at all. The body will take care of the rest.


Burns are a local massage contraindication, even if it's a sunburn. Wait until it's gone. There are some techniques available within the massage arsenal that can help significantly with burns, but probably a bit too advanced for this site. Even I don't feel comfortable or trained enough to do such especially for severe burns. There's a lot more at play within the entire body relating to burns than the average person would think. 


Big thing with diabetes is a decreased ability to sense the amount of pressure you're putting on them when you massage or to feel pain. Additionally bruises can occur easily because blood vessels are more fragile. Err on the side of a lighter touch. Again, when you massage, you do more good than you think if done properly. There's a lot of times when less is better!!!

Edema – If pitting edema NO MASSAGE.

***Edema. If skin doesn't rebound and becomes pitted (indentation remains after pressure is applied) do not massage. I've heard various descriptions on the amount of time the pressure is applied to do this test. For safe massage purposes though, I am thinking five seconds would be a good amount of time to sustain pressure to see if the edema is pitted and not rebounding or not.


Be careful not to cause any bruising. Additionally, be careful about the pressure you use. Bones could be more brittle than you think. When dealing with elderly you'll have a lot more illnesses and ailments to consider. If you're not sure about something then don't massage until you've consulted a doctor or therapist just like anything else.

Emotional responses

This is something that isn't a local massage contraindication, but it is something that can and does occur. It's entirely possible for somebody you're massaging to get emotional. Touch can be a very powerful memory stimulant. The good thing about the home massage user is that if this should happen to occur, you'll most likely have some re pore with the person you're massaging because they're a friend or family member. This could be an opportunity to open some dialog that's needed or perhaps an indication that more advanced help is necessary. If this should occur, respect what is happening....guys. Regardless of what the underlying problem is that causes this to occur...it's serious to the person it's happening to. Follow your heart and be compassionate, but also respect that the person may not want to talk about it. It's that fine line of giving them space and being too smothering. For us guys we tend to want to be able to help all the time and sometimes it's not our place to be the helper all the time. Easier said than done I know in my case anyway.


If it's not known what is causing the fatigue then seek medical advice. Otherwise, if it were me I'd keep everything very light and subtle in how I approach my massage. Massage on a consistent basis can be a great for healthy sleep and the massage doesn't have to be anything fancy, long or sustained to reap those benefits. When I went to massage school I got massages everyday. I worked full time and was able to go off about four to five hours of sleep and felt very rested. In fact, I'd say that was the healthiest time of my life. It's a shame we all couldn't afford to buy that kind of health.


Migraines, tension, sinus – Be very sure you know what you're dealing with. My advice would be see a doctor. Migraines do not massage and for sure without doubt get a doctors permission first. It could be you have a sinus infection, a chemical imbalance of sorts, all the way up to a brain tumor. If you're getting frequent headaches go see your doctor for an evaluation. It may very well end up being a thing where it's no longer a local massage contraindication post physician exam and actually be the preferred treatment of choice. Once evaluation is made, massage can be a great choice with some guidance on how to go about doing it. This is one of those areas where I really think massage workshops can benefit those wanting to learn massage online. A place where people can get some one on one instruction on safe techniques on an individual basis.


Local massage contraindication, but also note to avoid the area and also avoid any area that causes pain or effects that area. When we massage we're moving tissues. Those displaced tissues as we massage can sometimes influence other areas adjacent to where we are presently massaging. It's just like water displacement in a tub, when we get in the tub, water rises.

High Blood Pressure

If it's severe then massage is contraindicated. What I'd recommend is that if you or the person your massaging is receiving massage on a consistent basis is that you let your doctor know. For that matter, let your doctor know if massage is a consistent part of your health routine. It's entirely possible that you are taking medications that could require some adjusting. Keep your massages on the mild to lighter side. This is another one of those things where less is sometimes better. I've taken BP's before and after massage and it's pretty neat to see the dramatic differences. The trick is doing it all safely.

Immune deficiencies

With things like AIDS or other immune deficiencies, Get a physicians approval prior to massaging. Additionally, make sure you take precautions necessary to eliminate the potential for any transfer of fluids. Most think “wow, I don't want to get AIDS.” I say it's a two way street. Think just as much about what you can give those who already have a compromised immune system. If you even think you're sick stay away!!! Wear a mask, wear gloves, be clean. Massage is a beautiful thing, but don't let it become something that will be dangerous to somebody by way of your eagerness to do good when really all you're doing is putting somebody in danger by being around them when you're sick. It's just plain common courtesy to anybody you massage or may come into contact with. This brings up a point. It may be YOU that is the local massage contraindication.


Do not massage. A local massage contraindication because it works counter to what the body is trying to do in order to heal. Indications of inflammation are pain, swelling, heat, redness and pain. It's always a good idea to know where the inflammation stems from. Is it an injury or something more advanced? With an injury, it's alright to massage so long as you stay away from the injured area and structures that irritate that area. For example, An ankle sprain. It's possible to irritate that area by massaging the back of the lower leg because some of those muscles that surround the ankle originate higher up on the leg.

Joint and disc problems

With doctors approval. Get an evaluation and ask your provider for advice. Additionally, you can take a local massage workshop where a therapist is willing to lend advice on techniques and protocols for things you can do at home, thus making it to where any local massage contraindications are dealt with in a safer manner.


Regardless of where lumps are located seek medical advice before massaging. If you find a lump it isn't always a major problem. The way to know the difference is seeing your physician.


I am a big believer in having a doctor be aware of a person getting a massage, especially if the person doing the massage has learned massage online or from a video. One of those reasons is the person getting massaged may be taking medications that preclude them from getting massage or massage could effect how medications work. Even I get on the phone with a doctor or pharmacist if I don't know.


Light massage over the abdomen is alright just don't massage if flow is heavy or if the person you are massaging feels uncomfortable.

Nervous system -- Problems relating to the nervous system

Get physicians approval.

Open sores, bleeding, cuts etc.

Stay away from that area. It's not only unsanitary and unsafe, but you can cause whatever is going on to become worse. Again, a definite local massage contraindication because you're increasing fluid exchange in an area of the body that is in the process of trying to repair itself. There's also the possibility for other contraindications to exist here.


Leans more on the side of a relative contraindication as opposed to a local massage contraindication. Only with physicians approval.  Even with physicians approval the depth of your massage will be very cautious and most likely emphasis more effleurage strokes.


See absolute contraindications Local massage contraindications exist as well and have been put under absolute contraindications for reasons of seriousness and to keep all information together.

Recent injury

The injured area is a local massage contraindication. Avoid massaging that area. However, say if a person has problem in the leg, it would be fine to massage the back, unless other absolute or local massage contraindications exist. Get a doctors evaluation. For minor injuries see the RICE -- rest, ice, compression, elevation page. Another area where a massage workshop wouldn't be a bad idea to supplement what you learn online. A lot depends on what a person has done after they've become injured. If a person hasn't started to take care of it correctly from the beginning it's possible to have pain and inflammation for quite some time after the injury occurred. Longer than the typical time frame for healing, because of re aggravation. Therefore, it becomes difficult to say when it's safe to start massaging over the area that was injured. It's just preferable to get the advice of a doctor before massaging. I can think of several variables that would make it unsafe for massage depending on how a person has taken care of themselves, their general state of health, age, etc.

Skin Problems

Stay away from massaging over skin problems, unless you know for sure what it is, and you know it's safe to do so. If unsure consult a physician. There's a reason why we have an entire field called Dermatology....there's a lot of skin problems. As well, be sure you are asking people about any allergies they may have and if any of those are contained in the lubricants you're using. If you have diagnosed eczema or psoriasis then massaging with whatever cream has been prescribed to treat it seems like it would work just fine, however you might want to check with a physician. You might also consider using gloves.


Certainly the area where the surgery occurred is a local massage contraindication, but also, there may be things going on relating to the surgery that makes massage inadvisable for the whole body. Seek doctors approval prior to massage.

Varicose Veins

Stay off varicose veins and anywhere that is further from where the varicose veins are located in relation to the heart. For example. If you have varicose veins on the back of the knee, don't massage the back of the knee or anything below the knee. Anything above the site of varicose veins behind the knee is fair game, so long as no other acute or local massage contraindications exist. Let's say you have varicose veins in the back of the knee (the vascular system is compromised at that area of the body) so massaging the lower leg and feet would then only add more vascular stress to that compromised area. Plus, it could be dangerous.