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Is Massage For Everyone? When You Should Not Get A Massage?

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We love massage therapy – but are there ever times when you should not get a massage? Besides having heaps of benefits, physical, mental, and emotional, massage just plain feels good. So, it’s understandable that many people are drawn to massage therapy as a treatment option. It’s a truly great form of health care.

However, it’s also true that there are times that you don’t have to get a massage. Most of those times are due to physical reasons. Some of these may be surprising to you. But, most of them are either temporary or avoidable.

In this post, we’ll discuss it here. (We’ll deal with instances when you can get a partial massage in a later post.)

5 Times When You Should Not Get a Massage

If you fit any of these situations, you should probably not get a massage. At the very least, talk to your doctor before booking your next appointment.

1. When You’re Intoxicated

First off, we’re not saying that alcohol is bad. However, getting a massage when you’ve had a few drinks is a bad idea. Here are several reasons why.

  • Alcohol dulls your sensitivity to pain. And you need to be able to feel accurate. If it hurts, you should feel that it hurts – and let your therapist know. Otherwise, you may be injured without knowing it.
  • Alcohol impairs your judgment. You may end up making a scene, acting inappropriately, or creating an unsafe situation.
  • Massage can amplify your intoxication. It affects your circulatory system, increasing blood vessel diameter (and blood flow as a result). This causes your drink to “go to your head” faster.
  • When you’re drunker, you’re more likely to vomit. Not ideal for a massage – for you or your massage therapist.

For those reasons, wait until you’re stone-cold sober to get your next massage.

2. When You’ve Taken Pain Medication or Recreational Drugs

Pain medication changes the way you feel pain. Its entire purpose is to make you feel less hurt. And your therapist needs your input to gauge how effective the therapy is and what you need. If a movement hurts, you need to be aware of it.

Here’s what you can do: wait. If you’re sick or injured and taking pain meds, schedule your appointment for just before you need to take another dose. Even if all you’re taking is over-the-counter pain meds. If your injury hurts too much to put off a dose, your perception of pain will be thrown off. You should put off your massage until your condition improves.

We don’t need to say much about recreational drugs. All you need to know is that if you’re using, a massage may actually put in you an unsafe situation. (See above where we discuss how alcohol and pain meds affect massage safety.)

3. When You’re Taking Certain Other Medications

We can’t say exactly which medications make massage therapy unsafe for you. Just as we won’t tell you what your doctor should tell you. But we do know that a number of meds have certain side effects that are made worse by massage. If you are taking any prescribed medications, ask your doctor to make sure massage therapy will work for you.

4. When You Have a Fever or Virus

When you’re down with a fever or any virus, massage is ruled out for you. What you really need is rest. Simply give your body time to kill the infection, virus, or whatever the cause may be. However much you may want to, don’t medicate your fever down unless it’s 104 or close to it. A fever is actually what your immune system uses to kill the threat to your health. (Get medical attention right away if your fever reaches 104.)

Why to avoid when you have a fever? Two things:

  • It can jack up the fever as your blood circulation increases
  • It causes fluids to move more quickly through your body (potentially spreading the contagion)

Stay home and rest if you’re sick. Especially if you’re contagious. No need to share germs!

5. Anytime Your Doctor Tells You Not To

Finally, listen to your doctor. No matter what other advice you may hear. If your doctor has told you that you should avoid massages, follow that advice. While it doesn’t happen very often, it has happened. We encourage you to stay healthy in a way that’s safe for you – and your body.


We’re glad to offer massage at our St. Elmo and Highway 58 Atlas Total Health Chiropractic locations! Schedule an appointment today to experience the dual benefit of chiropractic and massage therapy during your next session. And even when you should not get a massage, chiropractic care may still be an option for you.

Part 2 of this series, “Is Massage for Everyone?“, read to learn who can get a partial massage, even if a whole-body massage is ruled out.