When shouldn’t you get a massage?

In Massage therapy 101 by KellyLeave a Comment

As a massage therapist it is imperative that you know when someone can and can not receive a massage. It could mean big trouble for you if you don’t take the time to listen to what the client is and is not saying. So many times I have had clients come in for a massage session and they are sick as a dog. Nothing frustrates more then when a client thinks it’s OK to put my health at risk so they can get a massage because they think it will make them feel better.

At this point in my career I have no trouble what so ever telling someone ” no way Jose”  if they look sick and sound sick I don’t want to be near them. If you have children at home or you live with someone with a delicate immune system don’t think those germs aren’t on you when you go home to your loved ones.

Other then the pesky flu season there are many other reasons that could prevent someone from receiving a massage. There are several medical conditions and or medications that should be a red flag for you as a massage therapist. Please don’t think if you work for someone that you are protected under there umbrella in the event something goes wrong during a session.

If a client is on you’re table (even if someone else owns the table) you are responsible for that person and they can and will come after you! I would say most employers are pretty good about following the rules when it comes to contraindications for massage. But I would not be one bit surprised if places were so desperate to get clients that they would through the book out the window.

As a massage therapist you need to understand all the instances that massage would not be appropriate for someone. You can not be afraid to turn someone away, you’re massage licence could be at steak! To them it’s just a massage, to you it’s your livelihood! Check out this quick list below to make sure you are in the know when it comes to contraindications for massage therapy.


These conditions and/or pathologies are contraindicated for massage and require a prescription for massage from your physician prior to your massage.  You may bring the permission at the time of your massage.

  •   Local contagious/infectious conditions
  • Acute flare-up of inflammatory arthritis (e.g. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic lupus erthematosus, Ankylosing spondylitis, Reiter’s syndrome.)
  • During radiation therapy treatment
  • Active cancer
  • Diabetes mellitus 1 OR 2 with advanced heart or kidney disease – could have possible hypoglycemic reaction
  • Recent traumatic injury (car accident, head injury)
  • Acute disk herniation
  • Fever
  • Seizure disorder
  • Hypertension/Hypotension not well controlled by medication (high or low blood pressure not controlled by medication)
  • Phlebitis (Blood clot)
  • Severe varicose veins
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Thromboanaglitis obliterans (Buerger’s Disease)
  • High Risk Pregnancy
  • Acute Neuritis
  • Acute Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Meningitis
  • Sepsis
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Esophageal varicosities
  • Acute and subacute goiter
  • Any undiagnosed internal bleeding
  • Severe unexplained internal pain
  • Acute Ulcerative colitis (Crohn’s Disease)
  • Acute Diarrhea
  • Anema
  • Bursitis
  • Heart problems
  • Hematoma
  • Lice
  • Any unstable condition


  • Acute Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Severe Bruises
  • Skin infections or ulcerations
  • Ring worm
  • Stasis Dermatitis
  • Warts
  • Open Wounds
  • Recent Burn
  • Skin Cancer


  • Pain Medication
  • Heart Medication
  • Blood Thinners
  • If you are taking an antibiotic prescribed by your physician, it should be taken for three full days to achieve a blood level (of antibiotic) before a massage can be safely given.


This list covers the basics when it comes to contraindications for massage, even if you work for someone I would recommend having these two books in your massage library.

  1. Drug Handbook for Massage Therapist
  2. Disease Handbook for Massage Therapist

I would keep these at work so you can reference them as needed easily. If someone takes the time to write all their medications out for you, then you ow them the curtsy of taking a minute to see if any of those medications are contraindicated. Also if you do massage long enough then you are bound to see all kinds of things and it’s important to say on the up- and -up to protect your massage business and your license.

I hope you found this article helpful and if I can help you any further with this, please let me know. Thanks for reading…

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