Facts About The Human Body
31st August 2017

Massage to manage blood pressure?


RESEARCH INTO the effects on massage are shown to have changed over recent years, massage therapists during training were told that massage, could be a contraindication for clients with high blood pressure. However recent studies have concluded that certain types of massage may reduce blood pressure.

Swedish Massage

Swedish Massage was conceived from Anatomy & Physiology in the Western World. The massage can be relaxing and may assist in managing blood pressure. When a therapist talks about a massage, most people heard of a Swedish Massage.
The therapist is trained to relax the whole body with gliding strokes in the direction of the heart. This massage can assist in removing tension, improve the circulation of blood, which in-turn can increase the level of oxygen in the blood. Apart from feeling relaxed, a massage may assist in maintaining a healthy immune system and a possible reduction in blood pressure.

Aromatherapy Massage

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Aromatherapy Massage is also considered a Swedish Massage with essential oils. These oils come from flowers and plants and are selected to treat many different conditions, these can range from headaches to muscle pain and many more.
It has in the past been suggested that Thyme and Rosemary may raise blood pressures, however there seems little research to confirm this.
There are however, many oils that are claimed to reduce blood pressure, some of these are Ylang-Ylang, Lavender, Melissa, Bergamot, Rose, Jasmine and many more.
There are some essential oils that can have an adverse effect on the body, if you are interested a search on the internet will show how many there are.
There is one comparison, the essential oil Peppermint can be very potent, one drop of peppermint oil is the equivalent of around 30 Peppermint tea bags!

Thai Massage

Thai Massage or Thai Yoga Massage was founded by Shivago Komarpaj some 2500 years ago. Traditionally carried without the use of oils with the client fully clothed. Instead of using oils, Thai massage involves the massage therapist using stretching and pulling movements to relieve stress which could assist with managing headache symptoms, back pain and more, this will assist in calming the Central Nervous system, which can help reduce blood pressure.

Hot Stone Massage

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Hot Stone Massage as the name suggests uses flat stones that are heated with a stone heater to a temperature around 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51.6666667 degrees Celsius). The therapist places the stones on the specific points on the back, legs, and between toes, this assists in relaxing muscles and may give a feeling of wellbeing. However, there are many contraindications, it is recommended that people with conditions such as High Blood Pressure, Epilepsy, Heart Problems and many other conditions should consult their Doctor or Health Professional before having this type of massage.

Deep Tissue Massage

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Deep tissue massage as the name implies, involves the therapist using firm pressure to reach down into the muscles, used to manage severe aches and pains. However, it’s not recommended for people who have DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) as there is a risk that clots may be dislodged into the blood stream, there is always the possibility a clot could travel to the brain and cause a stroke, or if arteries are partially blocked, a blood clot could cause further problems
Again, speak with your Doctor or Health Professional before having this type of massage.
There are other types of massage, a search on the internet will give more information about any possible side affects you may experience from a massage. The information above is a very, very brief overview just to highlight the connection between massage and blood pressure.
If you’re interested look up:
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • PMSM Post-Massage Soreness and Malaise
  • Massage and Toxins
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A facial is an enjoyable treatment carried out by a beauty therapist, although very unlikely, the question is, could a face massage cause a stroke? The Carotid Arteries which run vertically each side of the neck, carry blood pumped from the heart which is the lifeline to keep the brain alive. The carotid arteries have nerve endings that respond to fluctuations in blood pressure, it is possible that massaging people in this area may have the side effect of lowering the heart rate, making the person feel dizzy or possibly fainting.
Should there be a build up of plaque in the carotid arteries, although rare, there is a possibility that plaque can break free and block an artery in the brain causing a stroke. You may wish to consider asking the person doing your facial, to avoid massaging in the area where the Carotid arteries are located.

Blood clots are a part of the body’s defense system, it comes into play when the body gets an injury, the platelets in your blood are activated causing them to stick together, and, with the help of proteins called Collagen (A Protein) and Thrombin (An Enzyme) they form a plug, otherwise known as a blood clot.
Blood clots can also be caused by an inflamed vein, artery or capillary. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot deep in a vein, more than often in the leg.
There are other causes that may cause a blood clot, some are detailed below:
  • Prolonged sitting at desk
  • Long periods of driving
  • Long periods of air travel
  • Heart failure
  • Heart Attack
  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Some respiratory conditions
  • Getting older
Some of the side effects are pain, swelling, redness in the area of the clot, restricting circulation through the veins which carry blood back to the heart.
There is also the chance, should a blood clot dislodge and travels in the bloodstream to the lungs, this can cause a condition called a ‘Pulmonary Embolism’ This can cause difficulty in breathing and chest pain, requiring urgent medical attention.
It is uncontrolled blood pressure that can damage or weaken blood vessels, which may cause them to weaken or narrow, possibly rupture. It is also possible that high blood pressure can cause blood clots to form in arteries that lead to the brain, which may lead to a stroke.
For all these reasons, if you have certain medical conditions, it would be advisable to speak with your Health Professional or Doctor before having a massage.
DVT can have serious consequences, however, there are things you can do to reduce the chances of DVT. When travelling by air, get up and have a walk around the cabin at least once an hour, if you sit at a desk or drive for long periods, get up and walk around, although unlikely, these are simple things that may avoid complications.

To Summarise

To summarise, a massage can be very relaxing and possibly assist in managing blood pressure. It’s when there are medical contraindications, some of which were mentioned in this section. Should you have any concerns I would strongly suggest you have a conversation with your Doctor or Health Professional.

To Summarise Further...

Should you find there are no contraindications that limit what massage you can have, or how often should you have a massage, I’ve researched, “Can you have too many massages” I was surprised to find that two famous comedians and actors that were at the top in the 1940’s. The two names were Bob Hope and George Burns, they each had a daily massage for around 70 years of their lives, both lived to be 100 years old. They attributed their longevity to a massage a day.
The only contradiction I can think of, is the cost.
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