Some clear cut times when you should not get a massage are the following:
- If you have a cold, flu, or another contagious viral or bacterial infection. Generally, if you are in the first 72 hours of coming down with a cold or the flu, you are most likely contagious to others and it is strongly recommended that you reschedule your appointment and stay home. Not only does the therapist not want to risk getting sick, but spreading your sick germs around will expose other clients as well. Plus your body and immune system are already working in overdrive trying to combat and recover from it, and a massage would just stimulate them even more and may do more harm than good. Resting is best in this circumstance.
- If you are intoxicated or just took some medications. If you have had a bit to drink, getting a massage is generally not recommended until you have sobered up. Same is true for pain medications or any other mood altering medication. Alcohol and drugs can impair not just your judgement, but it also desensitizes you, giving you a false sense of depth and pressure. This can be dangerous because you will not have a good sense of whether or not your therapist should deliver more or less pressure, and could lead to injuries and some very sore and achy muscles later. Also, massage increases your circulation and if you recently took some medications, pain pills, or drank some alcohol, they will get pushed through your system a little faster, intensifying the feeling of being drunk or decreasing the duration of the effectiveness of your medication. Ideally, you should wait several hours after taking a medication or having a drink of alcohol, to be on the safe side.
- If you have an acute injury. Massages are great in aiding in recovery from an injury, but not when it is an acute injury. The body needs time to go on the defense and flood the injured area. Most likely the injured area will be inflamed and swollen. Once that has gone down, and is no longer acute, then a massage may be beneficial in the healing and rehabilitation processes.
- Any other major acute health conditions. This may not be a “don’t get a massage”, but some chronic or other acute health conditions your doctor may recommend not receiving a massage. This is often more extreme cases, but with any major health condition, you should always consult with your doctor and therapist first. You may just need certain areas avoided, or maybe a certain technique such as a light Swedish, lymphatic, craniosacral, or myofascial may be better than deep tissue, trigger points, or even Ashiatsu.