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Therapist doing massage releasing tension by pressing chest on p

I have heart disease. Is massage right for me?

Senior man having a massageAccording to the Heart Foundation.org about 80 million Americans have heart disease or high blood pressure. The 2010 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics update of the American Heart Association reported that 17.6 million persons in the United States have heart disease, including 8.5 million with a history of heart attack and 10.2 million with chest pain. The prevalence of heart disease increases with age for both women and men.

Heart disease requires a variety of possible treatments, including various medications and procedures. Some people with heart disease may benefit from regular massage, but there are certain types of massage that can possibly cause serious damage. You need to be sure you’re in a knowledgeable practitioner’s hands to make sure you are safe.

Can Massage Help?

A hypothetical example:

Alex is a 59-year old tax preparer who has moderately High Blood Pressure that is easily controlled with a healthy lifestyle and medications. He is married, enjoys golfing, shooting, and watching football. As Alex’s work becomes busier during tax season, he gets headaches that are frequent and intense.  And when he works too much, he doesn’t have time to take care of himself like he should.

Alex’s doctor recommended that massage could help compliment his treatment plan to stabilize his blood pressure. His doctor referred him to a therapist who is experienced in working with cardiovascular patients. The doctor and therapist agreed that a relaxation massage with some trigger point and stretch techniques mixed in would be safe and beneficial for him.

After a few massage sessions, his headaches decreased. The doctor recommended a massage twice every month, but during busy season, Alex likes to go every week. The routine gives him peace of mind in knowing he’s doing everything he can to take good care of himself. For him, massage is a great antidote to the hours at his desk, and he finds himself less “grumpy” when he gets home after a hard day. When work is less busy, and Alex has more time for golf, he finds that massage gives him great relief for his low back tension, which helps his swing. Alex considers massage as part of his prescribed health routine, just like eating carefully and exercising.

What should you be careful of?

Because there are so many different types of cardiovascular conditions, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The type of massage that you have seen on TV is not the only kind out there, and in fact, may not be right for you. Your complete health history must be considered before making a decision. You must always talk to your doctor before deciding to embark on a personal massage program:

Blood thinning drugs: Cause the body to be more sensitive and in some cases, even fragile. Deep tissue done on someone taking blood thinners can cause inflammation, bruising, and tissue or organ damage.  Like the wise man said, more is not always better.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Massage may be just the thing to help you manage stress and subsequently your high blood pressure (just like the example above). Low blood pressure is also a concern, and because massage lowers one’s blood pressure slightly, it is not uncommon for individuals taking medication to lower their blood pressure.  This would cause them to get a bit lightheaded just after receiving a massage, until the blood pressure returns to normal.

Blood Clot: Individuals with a history of blood clots (aka Thrombosis) should avoid Swedish Massage. Swedish massage techniques on someone who has a risk of blood clotting could possibly dislodge a clot and release it into the blood stream. In a worst-case scenario, this can induce a stroke or heart attack, or a lung blockage.

Pacemaker: If an individual has a pacemaker, stent, or any kind of apparatus implanted into a vein/artery which is superficial (in the neck and leg would be considered superficial, but inside the rib cage is not), the therapist must avoid pressing over that area so as not to dislodge or damage it or surrounding tissues. But massage can usually be safely done on the rest of the body.

Massage can usually be great for someone who has Arrhythmia or a disruption in the heart rate, if that is the only health concern.

An individual with any signs of Congestive Heart Failure should avoid vigorous Swedish massage or limit Swedish massage to less than 15-20 minutes.  Gentle Massage on head, feet and hands is not a problem.

Close-up of a physiotherapist massaging a senior woman's back in the medical officeYou must find a therapist who is experienced and knows how to keep you safe. If they don’t ask about your medications or medical history, you’re not in the right office. Interview them on the phone before you go, and check their credentials. You probably want to ask your doctor to consult with your therapist so they can discuss your options. You probably CAN have massage, but it may be different from what you imagined, or what you see on TV.

How do you choose a practitioner?

If you are seeing a cardiologist, you should definitely get medical clearance before you have a massage. You should also get guidance on what kind of massage is best, and what the risks are. You should call your therapist before your appointment to make sure they have a good understanding of what it takes to keep you safe and comfortable. Most Certified or Licensed massage therapists get instruction on working with individuals with heart disease as part of their entry level massage education. However, there are additional classes available, and each therapist has varying levels of awareness and experience. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the therapist qualifications, and what they’re going to do during the massage. While you’re receiving massage, continue to ask questions as they come up. If at any time during the massage it feels worse than a “hurts good” sensation, then it’s too much, and you should speak up. Your therapist should never encourage you to suffer through anything you don’t like during a session.

The MedFit Network can help you find a reliable, educated massage practitioner in your area. In the right hands, you are sure to relax and find comfort through skilled touch. Search Now.


Kathy Flippin’s passion is to offer excellent therapeutic massage, and educate her clients on how they can take the best care possible of themselves. Kathy is the owner of Dynamic Touch Massage and has been a Sports Massage Therapist since 1997. Her clients include everyone from professional athletes to active grandmothers.

senior man having a massage in a spa center

Massage for Parkinson’s

The incidence of Parkinson’s disease in the United States is estimated at 1 million, with an additional 50,000 patients being diagnosed every year.

The most common signs of Parkinson’s disease are tremors, muscle rigidity, akinesia (temporary inability to move), dyskinesia (inability to execute specific voluntary movements at will) and loss of postural reflexes. The back posture becomes stooped, and the walk gradually turns to a shuffle as the arms stop swinging.

Can Massage Help?

senior man having a massage in a spa centerAccording to a 2002 study conducted by the Touch Research Institute:

Massage therapy can improve many PD symptoms and function, from the reduction of rigidity and improvement of sleep, to the reduction of tremor and increase of daily activity stamina symptoms.

The underlying reduction in the neurotransmitter, dopamine, is the cause of many of the PD symptoms. Massage has been shown to have positive effect on the release of neurotransmitters, enhancing their calming influence.

Other Benefits of massage are:

  • Improved Sleep and digestion
  • Reduced Stress, Depression and Moodiness
  • Relief for Cramping and Rigidity
  • Less Fatigue and Anxiety
  • Reduced Perception of Pain

Precautions

  • Give a full medical history, including other injuries and conditions besides Parkinson’s
  • Use Caution in areas with loss of sensation, light touch is best.
  • Be Careful getting on and off the massage table, balance issues may cause risk of falling.

What to Expect

Your therapist should take a complete health history, including a thorough list of treatments and side effects such as neuropathy, rigidity and skin problems.

But your therapist should also ask about other conditions or injuries you may have. You and your therapist should agree on goals for the session, and you should have a chance to explain your preferences for pressure, and the massage environment such as temperature, music, lighting, etc.

Disrobing: Massage can be done over your clothing (without oil) if your balance is an issue, and it’s too much trouble to dress and undress. If you decide to disrobe and you are concerned about falling, you can bring an aide with you, or ask your therapist for help.

During the massage, you will always be kept covered, observing your modesty and keeping you warm. Don’t hesitate to request that your therapist, or someone else help you on and off the massage table.

Position and Turning over: Some people have trouble turning over due to rigid or weak muscles. If you feel like a fish out of water lying on your stomach, just ask your therapist to work with you lying on your side instead. In this position your therapist still has good access to massage your back muscles, and you won’t feel helpless or confined.

How to Find a Practitioner

Close-up of a physiotherapist massaging a senior woman's back in the medical officeCheck with your city or state to find out what the basic requirements are for massage therapists.

Get a few names and numbers and start calling. Your interview should include questions about training and experience in general practice, and also experience with clients like you. Ask about office environment and policies.

Choose a practitioner that has extra training and experience working with cancer patients. A more complicated health history indicates that the therapist’s expertise is more important. Also, in some cases it is best to get your doctor’s approval.

Most of all, massage should never hurt, and if it does, you should say something. A conscientious massage therapist will constantly seek your feedback during the massage to make sure that the treatment is within your comfort zone the entire time. If you don’t feel that your feedback or concerns are (or will be) addressed, you’re not in the right place.

The MedFit Network can help you find a reliable, educated massage practitioner in your area. In the right hands, you are sure to relax and find comfort through skilled touch. Search Now.


Kathy Flippin’s passion is to offer excellent therapeutic massage, and educate her clients on how they can take the best care possible of themselves. Kathy is the owner of Dynamic Touch Massage and has been a Sports Massage Therapist since 1997. Her clients include everyone from professional athletes to active grandmothers.

Beautiful pregnant woman thinking of her baby

Benefits of Prenatal Massage

Prenatal Massage, Easing the Changes

What better way to show you are dedicated to giving this new life every advantage in the world than to arrange for a pregnancy massage from a specially certified therapist. Each session is designed to focus on the special needs of a mother-to-be as her body goes through the dramatic changes of the child-bearing year, which includes pregnancy, birth, and post-delivery. Massage provides a nurturing touch, which in turn, nurtures the life of your unborn child.

A woman’s body changes a great deal over nine months. Her weight increases, her breasts change, her blood pressure elevates, organs are compressed and pushed up, and the muscles in her abdomen become stretched and strained. Massage can help relieve pressure and tensions created by these changes.

Benefits of a Pregnancy Massage Include:

  • An opportunity for much-needed rest and relaxation
  • Balances hormones (relieving moodiness and nausea)
  • Increases fetal circulation
  • Reduces swelling
  • Relieves back and neck pain
  • Improves skin tone elasticity
  • Deepens maternal bonding
  • Enhances body awareness (making delivery easier)

Benefits of massage after Birth

  • Post-delivery/Postpartum massage addresses the mother’s stress of carrying and caring for a newborn, speeds recovery and relieves sore muscles.
  • The childbearing year includes not only the three trimesters of pregnancy, but also during labor, and three months after delivery.
  • After delivery, a new mother must gradually regain her postural strength and pre-pregnancy state of of fitness. Your therapist will give you stretches and exercise you can do at home to help your body get back to normal.

How is pregnancy massage special?

The mother-to-be is always carefully supported in several positions. When lying face-up, she is supported with the back lifted, to provide comfort and maximum circulation to the legs and the fetus. While in a side-lying position, special pregnancy pillows support the stomach, which allows the therapists to massage the back and hips. The belly is NEVER compressed by lying face down, nor is the belly left hanging through a hole in the massage table. These methods are less than ideal for the mother’s body and for fetal circulation.

Beautiful pregnant woman thinking of her babyPregnancy massage addresses the profound changes a woman’s body experiences during the entire childbearing year. During the first months, massage can help her body balance changing hormones, which often cause morning sickness. During the Second Trimester, pregnancy massage addresses the upper and lower back pain that develops from the weight of the new baby. At the end of pregnancy, massage can relieve swollen feet and hands, numbness, hip, low back and sciatic pain. Pregnancy massage is also intended for the three months after the delivery to help the new mother regain abdominal strength, reduce soreness and relax muscle tension, and to offer a brief respite from the new duties of motherhood and caring for an infant

If you are in a “High Risk Maternity” category, or having any complications, you may still be able to have a massage, but you should definitely get medical clearance first. You should also call your therapist before your appointment to make sure they have a good understanding of what it takes to keep you safe and comfortable. Most Certified or Licensed massage therapists get instruction on working with Pregnant Mothers as part of their entry level massage education. However, there are additional classes available, and each therapist has varying levels of awareness and experience. We recommend finding a therapist that has an additional certification in Pregnancy or Prenatal Massage. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the therapist qualifications, and what they’re going to do during the massage. While you’re receiving massage, continue to ask questions as they come up. If at any time during the massage it feels worse than a “hurts good” sensation, then it’s too much, and you should speak up. Your therapist should never encourage you to suffer through anything you don’t like during a session.

The Medical Fitness Network can help you find a reliable, educated massage practitioner in your area to help you ease your pain, improve range of motion and reduce muscle tension. Let massage touch your life and add to your health and well-being!


References

  1. Field, T. (1999). Pregnant Women Benefit From Massage Therapy. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Mar;20(1):31-8.
  2. Field, T. (2004). Massage Therapy Effects on Depressed Pregnant Women. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Jun;25(2):115-22.

Massage and Diabetes

Diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2, are chronic metabolic diseases that require medical management. Type 2 diabetes is more common and it is estimated that 1-in-3 children born in the U.S. today will develop Type 2 diabetes during their lifetime. Fortunately, the treatment options and knowledge base is growing every day. Most people are looking for ways to enhance their healthy lifestyle. Receiving massage therapy can be one way of taking control, and nurturing your body, encouraging health and balance, and reducing symptoms and side effects naturally.

Woman Receiving Massage

Arthritis and Massage

Did you know that there are multiple different forms of arthritis, with a wide variety of symptoms and presentations?  The most common of these is Osteoarthritis.  “Osteo” means bone; “Arthro” relates to joints; and “-itis” refers to inflammation.  By definition Osteoarthritis is the degradation of a joint, breakdown of the cartilage, and the inflammation that accompanies it. Another name for Osteoarthritis is Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD).