Can I have any type of massage?
There are certain types of massage that qualified and trained massage therapists would not recommend during certain stages of cancer treatment or recovering from surgery. This is typically because they’re more intense and may be painful or cause bruising.
For example, deep tissue massage would not be recommended because:
- It exerts more pressure through the skin and soft tissue, often into muscle and the bony structures beneath. Pressure at this level can introduce a level of inflammation, which, in some instances, can cause bruising and swelling.
- We also know that some medications and cancer treatments may cause ‘blood thinning’, and therefore increase the risk of bruising.
- Other drugs, particularly certain types of chemotherapy, can cause osteoporotic (bone fragility) changes, which make deeper massage more uncomfortable.
- If you have lymph nodes removed as part of your treatment then you should avoid deep tissue massage to minimise the risk of triggering lymphoedema through excess pressure.
It is important for you to be aware that there is a difference between deep tissue massage and ‘firmer’ massage, and again this is where a therapist with the right qualifications can offer support. Do make sure you ask if you would like the therapist to increase the pressure to suit your comfort and preference.
Another example is heated massage, referring to the use of heated stones or other materials above body temperature i.e., 38c, for similar reasons. However, there are lots of other types of massage offering a host of wellbeing benefits. A therapist who has undergone specific training to work with anyone receiving cancer treatment can ensure that the techniques they use are not only safe but enjoyable as well.
PubMed paper: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15256294/
BY MARC INNES