Find out what are the main dangers of self-massage!
A trip to the massage parlor is always deemed as a rewarding experience. Massages beat most painkillers in providing lasting relief for a stressed mind and tense muscles. Healthcare providers also recommend certain types of massages as part of the management of some conditions.
The problem with professional massage, though, is that you might not have the time or money for it. So as a temporary fix, you do a bit of pressing and squeezing here and there. Instead of relieving, you might actually be exposing yourself to the dangers of self-massage.
The main dangers of self-massage are:
- Prolonging discomfort
- Causing an injury
- Worsening a medical condition
- Not getting the right treatment
- Resulting to a temporary or permanent disability
5 Dangers Of Self-Massage
What the experts are saying
To be clear, many physical therapists and massage therapists advise self-massage to ease some soreness that is not caused by any serious injury or condition. Remaining in the same position for so long (for example sitting, standing, slouching or lying down) is the number one cause of the common muscle, joint and back pain. Poor posture and sedentary lifestyle can intensify the severity and frequency of the soreness.
Self-massage, along with proper posture and exercise, can keep such pain at bay. Thus, it should form part of your self-care routine.
Learn more: Top 6 Health Benefits Of Self-Massage
There are many self-massage techniques you can do even at work. Pressing and squeezing some parts of your face, legs and arms are practically doable anywhere you are. You may also use stress balls for your tense palms. At home, you may do self-massage techniques that involve stretching, lying down and using tennis balls.
Along with their recommendations, experts give warnings about the possible dangers of self-massage. The self-treatment is generally safe but doing it improperly may do more harm than good. Below are some of the potential negative effects of self-massage.
1. Prolonging discomfort
Massaging can indeed be painful. Relief comes after the discomfort in most cases. However, there are instances wherein you might end up with prolonged discomfort instead of relief. The discomfort may or may not be accompanied by a bruise. This is quite common even to professional massage. The condition is called post-massage soreness and malaise (PMSM) which tends to last for a day or two.
Prolonged discomfort from a self-massage can happen when you exert too much force in pressing, squeezing, rubbing, stretching or rolling.
Incorrect use of massaging tools may be blamed as well. Hitting a body part with a massage stick, for instance, can cause not only discomfort but also bruises. The said tool should be rolled but there are users who hit their aching body parts with the stick and find temporary comfort for doing so.
2. Causing an injury
The typical post-massage discomfort and bruise may be relieved by some forms of ice therapy and light exercise. But if they still linger for weeks, what you might be dealing with is already an injury.
Individuals who often turn to self-massage are at a higher risk of having massage-induced injuries. Aside from the lack of training, not having comprehensive knowledge in anatomy and pain management is a major factor that causes such risk.
One of the possible injuries you might get from a self-massage is sensory injury. Having this condition affects how your mind and body perceives pain. You might have lower pain tolerance than before because of this. However, sensory injury resulting to higher pain tolerance is also possible and it is not good either. What if you have other medical conditions? A higher pain tolerance might not be able to signal you right away when something is wrong with your body.
Nevertheless, the most likely injury you can inflict to yourself through massaging is a minor muscle injury. This is similar to the injury you may get from a heavy workout.
3. Worsening a medical condition
Just like injuries, incidents wherein self-massages worsen a medical condition are quite rare, but they happen. People who are suffering from musculoskeletal problems and chronic pain are the most prone to such incidents. Apart from those conditions, if you are diagnosed with kidney or liver problems, intense and prolonged self-massages can also have adverse effects to your problematic organ.
The liver and kidneys are involved in the processing of waste products in your body. The waste products they handle include those that come from injured muscles. Too many injuries entail more waste products, and that means additional workload for the liver and kidneys. When these organs are impaired, the extra workload can take a toll on them and speed up their deterioration.
4. Not getting the right treatment
This is one of the most common dangers of self-massage. To be honest, this is the danger with all self-treatment techniques, not just self-massage. Of all self-treatment techniques though, massaging yourself tends to be the one thing you do right away, either consciously or subconsciously, when you are experiencing any discomfort.
After getting temporary relief from the self-massage, you may keep on ignoring or underestimating the actual problem.
Self-massage can only help in managing symptoms of medical conditions and dealing with the discomfort from some treatment options. It should not serve as an alternative to proper treatment. If you only use massage, you are only getting fleeting relief for the symptoms. You will not be able to recover fully from your condition if you don’t target the root cause.
5. Resulting to a temporary or permanent disability
There were reports in the past, suggesting that a massage can lead to strokes. Some are able to recover while others end up with permanent disabilities. The incidence rate is way too low and many specialists still consider other factors that trigger or increase the risk of having strokes. But still, it happens. This is the worst that can possibly happen when you do self-massage.
When you massage yourself, you might accidentally apply too much pressure on the nerves in your neck and back. The nerves therein are well-protected but too frequent or aggressive self-massaging can damage them.
Aside from nerves, blood vessels are another thing you should be mindful of when massaging your body parts. Having blood clots is more plausible when you use a massage tool instead of just using your fingers and knuckles. When you use your fingers and knuckles, you can feel the pulse in the parts you are applying pressure to. Consequently, you can control the pressure more efficiently. A massage tool doesn’t help you like that.
Practicing self-massage is a component of an ideal self-care routine. However, it is not free from any drawback. There are dangers of self-massage that everyone should know before applying too much pressure, performing a routine, or using a massaging tool.