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Concussions and Massage Therapy

Written by Megan Jett


The Mayo Clinic defines a concussion as a mild traumatic brain injury, caused by a blow to the head or violently shaking the upper body and neck. This can happen through a contact sport injury, such as football, hockey, boxing, and a car accident. On impact the brain hits the inside of the skull and causes bruising. The severity of concussions vary with each case, but the symptoms can appear hours, even days after the initial trauma. Symptoms include headaches, sensitivity to light, dizziness and nausea. According to the CDC, you should see a doctor if your headache worsens or won’t go away, repeated vomiting, and slurred speech.


Complications of a concussion are shockingly common, Post Concussion Syndrome or PCS can often occur. ABMP states that this syndrome has no universally agreed-upon definition, but it’s considered to be a minor secondary head injury, which can increase the risk of developing lasting impairments that limit function.


It’s typical to want a massage when you are in pain and after a concussion you are more than likely hurting. However, it takes about 7-14 days to recover from a concussion and we cannot treat you until you have proper clearance from a licensed physician. After that clearance, massage therapy can be very beneficial in helping you on your road to recovery. It is safer to gradually work up in pressure throughout your session. Sometimes deep pressure and focus work can overwhelm the sensory system or can cause more damage to the already injured muscle. We need to work into deep pressure slowly to make sure we aren’t going to cause further discomfort and pain.


When talking to your massage therapist, be sure to inform them of your recent concussion, the clearance of a physician, and what exactly seems to be bothering you. With PCS clients, massage is limited but helpful, the main priority in recovering a concussion is relaxation, not just your body but your mind. You can expect in your first few sessions after a concussion to receive light to medium pressure, scalp massage, neck, and upper body work. Often TMJ work can help reduce your headaches and help with the tension in your neck. If you’re one of our deep tissue junkies, recovery massage for a concussion is going to seem really light compared to what you usually get. But we promise we are making sure you recover correctly from your concussion.