Massage therapy is a rehabilitative technique with multiple purposes, e.g., to reduce muscle contractures causing pain.

While massage therapy itself does not have any specific contraindications (being considered “the oldest medical and therapeutic intervention in the world”), it is important to understand:

  • Its techniques
  • The conditions for which it is particularly effective
  • When it should be avoided

What Is Massage Therapy? 

Massage therapy is a manual rehabilitation technique considered one of the oldest in the world. It represents one, if not the first, of the most primitive and instinctive therapeutic interventions. 

Massage therapy involves touching one or more segments or areas of the body using well-established manual maneuvers. The purpose is to induce specific therapeutic effects, such as:

  • Reducing pain 
  • Normalizing muscle tone

Due to its immediate effects, massage therapy is one of the first forms of therapeutic intervention available to us. It can be used:

  • For self-treatment 
  • To provide a sense of calm and peace to others

For instance, parents often massage their infants’ backs or bellies to soothe them or alleviate colic pain. Additionally, when we hurt ourselves, our automatic response is to touch, protect, and massage the affected area, which can help ease the pain—and it works. 

Generally speaking, massage therapy has no specific contraindications and can even provide long-term benefits, particularly when incorporated into a comprehensive rehabilitation program.

Massage Therapy: Who Is It Good For and What Benefits Does It Provide? 

Massage therapy can benefit individuals of all ages. It is particularly indicated for the treatment of various muscle pathologies, including:

  • Tense muscles
  • Contractures
  • Postural disorders

Additionally, massage therapy can effectively reduce edema and swelling through techniques like lymphatic drainage massage. It can also have therapeutic effects on visceral conditions, such as:

  • Alleviating abdominal pain 
  • Promoting bowel movements

Massage maneuvers are even utilized to alleviate tension caused by surgical scars, especially after procedures involving significant incisions – such as hip and knee replacements, abdominal surgeries, or mastectomies for oncologic purposes.

In terms of therapeutic effects, massage therapy not only helps to relieve pain and ease muscle tension but also induces a general sense of relaxation on a psychological level.

Furthermore, massage therapy offers long-term benefits, with the therapeutic approach tailored to each patient’s specific clinical condition and adjusted throughout treatment.

Massotherapy and Other Associated Therapies 

Massage therapy can be complemented by various other therapies, including:

  • Manual or osteopathic treatments
  • Physiotherapy
  • Manipulations

Additionally, injection-infiltrative therapies – like mesotherapy – can be combined with massage therapy. Mesotherapy involves the injection of pharmaceutical substances into the subcutaneous layer to enhance the effects of massage therapy. 

Moreover, physical therapies can also be combined with massage therapy. For instance, TECAR therapy combines the massage technique with radiofrequency. This combination provides an anti-edema and antiphlogistic effect, greatly complementing massage therapy.

Massage therapy and therapeutic rehabilitative exercises can sometimes be incorporated within the same session. When dealing with predominantly myotensive contractural issues, massage therapy often proves to be more effective than osteopathic or chiropractic manipulation techniques.

Does One Feel Pain After Treatment? 

Rarely. Therapeutic massage typically restores a sense of well-being and relaxation. 

Occasionally, some individuals may experience mild discomfort during the initial massage session. This can be attributed to the sensitivity of the patient, who may need to get used to the touch and manual dexterity of the therapist. 

Additionally, the skill level and technique of the therapist can play a role, as overly intensive treatment may temporarily exacerbate pain. However, experiencing slight discomfort during the first session is not detrimental to the treatment.

The only massage therapy contraindications include: 

  • Infectious skin conditions
  • Presence of injuries in the treated area
  • Limbs or segments where fractures are present
  • Presence of suspicious masses