Deep-tissue massage is a technique that focuses on deeper layers of muscle to alleviate pain and stress in targeted areas. Though it is a fairly standard technique under most circumstances, pregnant women may be a bit leery of deep-tissue massage because of its emphasis on pressure points and its tendency to leave the recipient sore for a day or two.
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Most doctors say that any type of massage, including deep-tissue massage, is contraindicated during the first trimester of pregnancy. Contraindication means that a treatment that would normally be prescribed for your set of symptoms is not advised because of a medical condition or your age, among other reasons.
Many women believe all types of massage are contraindicated throughout pregnancy. However, after the first trimester only very intense forms of massage should be avoided. Deep-tissue massage is generally regarded as too dangerous for pregnant women, but some prenatal massage experts may employ moderate deep-tissue techniques for certain pregnancy side-effects, such as back pain.
The benefits of massage for pregnant women are many, according to the book "Massage for Dummies." A prenatal massage expert can ease back pain, swelling, cramps and sciatic pain through touch. Someone who is familiar with prenatal massage techniques will also know appropriate positioning, as well as pressure points to avoid, and will be able to deliver a deep massage that's helpful to both mother and baby.
There are considerations regarding deep-tissue massage techniques that pregnant women should be aware of. The first is that deep-tissue massage often focuses on specific pressure points that can induce miscarriage or early labor. Massage therapists should always avoid the webbing between the index finger and the thumb and the ankle bones in particular. Additionally, deep-tissue massage increases blood circulation, which can aggravate morning sickness symptoms. Dizziness and nausea aren't uncommon in pregnant women following a massage that was too intense.
According to Kelly Lott, a certified massage therapist and prenatal massage expert with website Pregnancy Today, pregnant women should feel free to seek out massage after the first trimester. However, they need to find someone who specializes in prenatal massage to make sure the treatments they're receiving are safe. They should also avoid deep-tissue massage techniques on certain pressure points until after their due date has passed.
- "Deep Tissue Massage: A Visual Guide to Techniques"; Art Riggs; 2007
- Pregnancy Today: Expert Q&A
- "Massage for Dummies"; Steve Capellini and Michel Van Welden; 2010