Can massages be harmful

Q: I got a massage to help ease the tension in my neck and shoulder. Afterward, I had more discomfort than before the massage. Why?

A: Generally, massages are safe and offer many benefits. However, they can cause damage if they are carried out incorrectly or under inappropriate circumstances. A licensed massage therapist should be skilled in determining when massage could be beneficial and when it could be dangerous.

People sometimes assume that tender or aching muscles are simply a result of tension, when in fact, a more serious condition is the cause. Some people find this out when their symptoms are aggravated rather than alleviated after receiving a massage. Everyone ought to understand that the nature of a particular complaint should be determined before getting a massage.

Massage can help reduce swelling in certain cases. However, it is generally best to avoid massages over inflamed or injured areas. Deep tissue massage in particular can increase swelling and pain for people with pinched nerves or inflamed tissues.

Massage helps promote blood circulation. For this reason, people with cancer or infection should avoid them so that the condition isn’t spread to other tissues. People who have a blood clot should also avoid massages unless performed by a doctor. Pregnant women should only receive massages by a qualified massage therapist who has been trained in pregnancy massages.