Contraindications for chair massage

Updated April 17, 2017

Massage reduces tension, pain, anxiety and distress; improves circulation; and encourages relaxation. Massage therapy is also used for symptom control for some conditions, including depression and cancer. Studies have also been conducted to prove the benefits of massage therapy during palliative care. The benefits of human touch are well-known and well-documented. However, massage is not for everyone. Certain conditions may be contraindications for massage -- even a simple chair massage. It is important to note that massage may sometimes be contraindicated at different stages after an injury, but that does not mean all massage is contraindicated.

Loss of Skin Integrity

One important contraindication for a chair massage is loss of skin integrity, whether the patient has a skin tear, rash, bruise, burn, boil, blister or pressure ulcer. A skin condition could be a sign of something worse. The massage therapist must be very careful not to further damage the skin, which could mean foregoing the massage until the area is completely healed. Even still, the massage therapist must be aware of any previous deep pressure ulcers, as the skin never fully regains its full tensile strength after healing.


Massaging an inflamed area can cause irreparable damage, depending on the type of injury. However, inflammation is a good example of a relative contraindication for massage, meaning it is relative to certain cases, but not all. Many massage therapists agree that massaging to aid in proper scar tissue modelling must be done around three days after the injury, when some inflammation may still be present.

Fever and Infection

Needlessly exposing yourself to an infection is never a good idea. Also, massage hinders the healing process for a patient with a fever or infection. When the body has a fever, it tries to isolate the foreign body (usually the virus). A chair massage increases the body's circulation and hinders the process.

Diseases and Disorders

Chair massage is not appropriate for patients with diseases and disorders that involve circulation, respiratory or bone problems. For example, massaging an area with a varicose vein, blood clot or deep vein thrombosis could cause damage. Likewise, a patient with osteoporosis may not be able to handle a deep chair massage without suffering bone damage. Other examples include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, HIV and asthma. Consult a physician before giving these patients a chair massage.

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About the Author

Based in Southern California, Kristy Borowik has been writing professionally since 2004. She serves as a technical writer and editor, earning several awards from the Society for Technical Communication, with articles also appearing in "Trilogy Life" magazine. Borowik holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and print journalism from Southern Adventist University.