Is It Okay To Get Massage With An Injury?

Monday, January 11th, 2021
man in white shirt and blue jeans with hand on back, back pain

Many people seek massage therapy for pain after an injury, but this should only be done in certain circumstances and with specific methods. Massages help with the healing process as well as relieving pain. This is especially true for acute soft tissue injuries. The important thing to keep in mind is that healing happens in stages, and so should your massage therapy.

In terms of injuries in general, acute refers to those that are sudden and caused by impact or trauma. Falls, strains, sprains, and collisions (think car accidents and sports injuries) can all result in acute soft tissue injuries. Symptoms include pain, swelling, redness, tenderness, and inflammation.

The first step in treating an acute injury is usually R.I.C.E., which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Rest allows your body time and energy to start the recovery process. Ice prevents spasms and swelling. Compression can slow swelling and hemorrhaging in the affected area. Elevation also helps produce the same effects, but only if the injury is lifted above the level of the heart.

The phases of healing

There are four stages of healing after you have received a soft tissue injury. It is important for you to understand these so that you and your massage therapist can come up with a good schedule. Keep in mind that the severity of the injury and success of the treatments may mean you won’t experience some of the stages.

  • Acute: This phase lasts between two and four days. This is the time your body needs protection from re-injury, so you should use R.I.C.E to encourage healing.
  • Sub–acute: This stage lasts around six weeks and is when people are more likely to seek treatment from massage therapists, acupuncturists, physical therapists, and chiropractors.
  • Late stage: This can last between six weeks to three months. During this phase, the body is still trying to decide whether the injury is healed enough for normal function. Be careful that you do not injury yourself again at this point.
  • Chronic: After three months, if you are still experiencing pain from the injury, it is known as chronic. Many people won’t get to this stage, but if you do, consider switching up your healing routines to see if something works better.

What to avoid if you get an acute injury

There are some things you should avoid after the first two days. Heat will increase bleeding around the injury. Alcohol consumption will as well. If you have an acute injury in your lower extremities, avoid running for a few days as it can cause further injury. Finally, do not get a massage around the affected area for at least two days.

Getting massage therapy for pain (safely)

You CAN get massage therapy when you have an acute injury, as long as the therapist you work with understands soft tissue conditions. Licensed therapists will have the training needed to help you heal and avoid further injury. They help relieve muscle tightness, pain, and knots by working on the connective tissues surrounding the muscles, tendon, ligaments, bones, and organs.

Lymphatic drainage massage

This type of massage therapy should be done after the first two days of healing. Lymph is the liquid that moves toxins through the body using vessels located just under the skin. By using gentle motions and light pressure, the massage therapist can help speed up your body’s natural healing processes. Lymphatic drainage massage is perfect during the stages of healing that you are protecting the injury.

Deep tissue massage

This type of massage is best to use after an injury has had time to heal. The therapist will use stronger motions to get down into the deeper layers of muscle and tissues. The massage therapist needs to ensure that they are watching your body language and checking in with you verbally. They will switch up their methods to make sure you are comfortable.

Slow and steady is the name of the game with deep tissue massage. The goal is to reduce pain and stiffness in the affected area, as well as heal the whole body. When you get a soft tissue injury, it will actually affect other areas because they need to compensate for functionality. By looking for imbalances in the body, the therapist can help with the initial area and any other issues it causes.

Do you need massage therapy?

If you have an injury and would like to add massage to your treatment regimen, give Back to Basics Massage Studio a call! Our licensed therapists offer a variety of services including Sports Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, Cupping, and Acupuncture. You can reach us at (806) 322-3706 to learn more.