Chair Massage - The Little Known Side Effects

Published: 18th February 2010
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Chair Massage (also called seated massage) was developed by American, David Palmer in the early 1980's.

This 15 minute massage is performed with the recipient seated on, and supported by an ergonomically designed chair.

Even though chair massage is used mainly for relaxation and stress release in the workplace environment, chair massage is also suitable for the pregnant woman who has difficulty lying

in a suitable position on the massage table. The elderly and infirm can also benefit from seated massage.

An unexpected and uncommon side effect of seated massage can be nausea and fainting. This "fainting phenomenon" occurs with people (mainly women) who are predisposed to low blood pressure.

Typical instances of clients fainting include pregnant women, and women experiencing menstruation.

Diabetics who have allowed their blood sugar level to drop can also be affected. Missing a meal or snack before their massage puts the diabetic person at risk of fainting on the chair.

Sometimes a regular seated massage client can experience a 'one-off' fainting spell for no apparent reason.

A person who has episodes of nausea or fainting may also be at risk of this side effect. For instance, a person who feels 'queasy' and nauseous when she gives blood.

What then is the massage therapist to do?

During the intake interview the practitioner must enquire about the recipient's blood pressure and any history of fainting. The therapist should always inform the client to report the slightest feeling of queasiness or nausea during the massage.

If the client does faint on the chair, the therapist can either support the client to avoid any injury, or assist the unconscious person off the chair and raise his/her legs. Consciousness will soon return.

There will be no ill effects from the experience once it passes. However, fainting can be a source of embarassment for the client. The therapist needs to re-assure the person that fainting can indeed occur during a seated massage, but that there are no after effects.

It may be helpful to give a simple explanation of the fainting phenomenon. One of the well known benefits of massage is relaxation. When the body relaxes, blood pressure is lowered. When this occurs during a table massage, nothing happens until the client sits up after the massage. The client may feel a little 'spaced out' or 'heady'. If the client gets off the table too quickly, that is when she may feel dizzy. However, during a seated massage, the effect of less blood flow to the brain is immediate. Dizziness and nausea may thus result.

In summary, then, it is essential that all seated massage practitioners are aware of the fainting phenomenon and take all steps to avoid it happening to their clients.

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