In a previous massage post we looked at some common local contra-indications to massage, such as cuts and bruises.

A massage consultation

A massage consultation

Here’s a reminder of what a contra-indication is.

What is a contra-indication?

It is a condition where the therapist must exercise caution or possibly avoid working on an area of the body.

In more extreme cases, you may need to avoid treatment altogether (but at the same time, in such extreme cases a person would rarely be wanting a massage).

Today we’ll be looking at conditions that are totally contra-indicated, conditions that may be contra-indicated but require medical advice, and additional cautions such as medication and allergies.

Total or local?

Total or local?

Conditions that are totally contra-indicated


A high temperature is a sign the body is fighting an infection of some kind. Massaging could place undue strain on the body so you must wait until the temperature has subsided.

Skin or scalp infections

Any contagious skin disease (ringworm, scabies, herpes simplex or

Colds and flu are contra-indicated too

Colds and flu are contra-indicated too

cold sores, impetigo etc) because of the risk of cross-infection.

Acute infectious diseases

For example, measles, chicken pox, mumps, tuberculosis, but even colds and flu because of the risk of spreading the disease.




Alcohol consumption/Drug user

Avoid massaging someone who has consumed alcohol or has taken drugs as the increase of blood flow could make them dizzy and nauseous.

Recent operations

GP referral necessary

You should get the go-ahead from the client’s doctor for certain major medical conditions. These include:

Cardio-vascular conditions (angina, ateriosclerosis, atherosclerosis, thrombosis, hypertension). As massage increases blood circulation it will, initially at least, exert pressure on the vessels of the cardio-vascular system.

Varicose veins and phlebitis.

Cancer. The current medical opinion about cancer is that the tumour is not likely to be spread by mechanical means such as massage. However there are many other considerations to take into account such as the patient’s general condition, blood counts, weakness, chemotherapy/radiotherapy treatment, drugs etc. which need a doctor’s input.

Dysfuncitons of the nervous sytem such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy.  GPs approval needs to be sought although massage may help reduce spasms and involuntary movements, rigidity and stiffness.

Neuritis. This is characterized by tingling or numbness. Refer to GP.

Osteoporosis. Bones can break easily with this conditin so seek medical advice before giving treatment.

Diabetes. Some clients with diabetes may be prone to arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and oedema, and possible loss in sensory nerve function. Medical advice is required.

Epilepsy. Refer to the GP regarding the type and nature of epilepsy. The risk is that deep relaxation or overstimulation may provoke a convulsion.

Additional cautions

Allergies. Care should be taken to ensure the client is not allergic to any oils used (be careful with nut-based oils if using, for example)

Medication. Certain medications may inhibit or distort the client’s response to give feedback about pressure, discomfort and pain (for example if taking strong painkillers).

Find a comfortable postion for your pregnant client

Find a comfortable postion for your pregnant client


Pregnancy isn’t a contra-indication but special care should be taken to ensure a pregnant client is comfortable during treatment.



The ultimate pamper experience in thecomfort of your home

The ultimate pamper experience in the comfort of your home



You can contact me at Just Massage for a home massage appointment in and around the Mérignac and Pessac area (near Bordeaux, France) on: