All Things Considered: If I have an injury, will a massage chair make it worse?
Photo By: Jacob Postuma, originally posted to Unsplash
Many people use massage as a form of treatment when caring for a soft tissue injury, such as a pulled muscle or a hamstring strain. Injuries less likely to be treated with massage are skeletal system injuries, like a fractured or broken bone. Even skeletal injuries do actually benefit from massage, but proper precaution and protocol must be applied if you are to improve (and not worsen) the injury.
For any type of injury, it’s recommended that you wait at least 48 hours before engaging in any type of massage. Some physicians even recommend waiting up to 72 hours before massage therapy. Particularly for acute injuries, like a strain or sprain, it’s important to follow what is known as the R.I.C.E. program. This includes:
Rest – to protect the injured muscle, tendon, ligament, or other tissue from further damage.
Ice – to reduce pain and spasm, and to control swelling.
Compression – This additionally limits swelling in order to enable the healing process.
Elevation – To limit edema formation and slow hemorrhage.
If swelling and pain persist after two full days, it is recommended that you continue to hold off on massage, and seek out medical attention if you haven’t already.
If you have a skeletal system injury, you will want to consult with a masseuse or physical therapist about personal, indirect massage around the injured area, in order to encourage blood flow and to further reduce swelling. Since these types of injuries vary greatly from person to person, it is recommended that you avoid using a massage chair on these areas and instead consult with a professional who will be able to address and respond to specific requirements that you may have. You may continue to safely use your massage chair to relax and encourage overall circulation improvement, as long as you avoid direct massage contact to the injured area. One helpful remote control feature to try is the BodyMap PRO, which allows you to select just one area in which you’d like a massage so that you can avoid the injured area.
For soft tissue injuries, it is also highly recommended that you consult with your physician before engaging in any type of massage. Once you have their approval, you may receive massage but must listen to your body and ease yourself into a massage routine that works for you. Many Human Touch massage chairs feature Cloud Touch Technology air compression, which uses targeted air cells to squeeze and release particular areas of the body. This is often an ideal introduction level for these massage chairs since they do not apply pinpoint pressure to any given area. Once you have established that the Cloud Touch feature is comfortable for you, you may “graduate” to other massage programs and techniques with increased levels of pressure. Swedish massage uses relaxing, long strokes to achieve an overall sense of calm. It also encourages increased circulation so that your body can heal from your injury. Slowly increasing the intensity of the Targeted Benefits like Stretch, Flex, Tone, and Ease are also a good way to test out which massage will work best for you. If you feel any pain while using the massage chair on or around your injured area, discontinue the massage and either try another massage method that avoids your injury, or take a break from the massage chair entirely.
With all of these tips in mind, there are some types of injuries that require you to avoid massage altogether. These include the presence of blood clots, extremely high blood pressure (it’s worth mentioning that this is low risk, but is generally advised against), Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), nerve damage, cancer, burns, lesions, and certain forms arthritis or osteoporosis. If you have any of these conditions or injuries, you will need to consult with your physician to confirm whether any type of massage is recommended.