Kerri McCall

Yellow Flags

What Are Yellow Flags?

These are the types of things that will affect the overall massage but it will still be able to go ahead, just avoiding that particular area. For example:

· Bruises

· Cuts

· Strains/Sprains

· Fungal infections

· Any small areas of eczema

As long as these can be avoided easily then they would be classed as a yellow flag contraindication. This is so that there is no risk to the masseur or the client in that they hurt the client or put either of them at risk of any infections or spreading of conditions. Therefore if a masseur was doing a full body massage and the client had eczema on their arm, they would completely miss out that arm and do the rest of the body to avoid cross contamination of the eczema.

Red Flag

What Are Red Flags?

This is the type of thing that you wouldn’t be able to carry out the massage because of at all as it would be too dangerous and too higher risk for both the masseur and client. Therefore anything such as:


When massaging, you are increasing the blood flow to the area you are focusing on. When pregnant, a woman is supplying two bodies with oxygen and nutrients and so if you increase the blood flow to the area you are massaging, you are taking the oxygen supply away from the baby. This could have a lot of consequences for the mother and the baby e.g. miscarriage and so you would completely avoid any type of body massage on the mothers body during the pregnancy, however especially in the first trimester, so that there is no risk to the baby or the mother. This is because at the first stage of pregnancy, the baby is not stable yet and so any major changes to the mother's body during the first trimester, could effect the baby.


When massaging, you are putting a lot of pressure on the muscles and areas of the body. If a client has any form of cancer at all around the body no matter what type. If a masseur was to massage a cancer patient, using techniques such as thumb kneading or tapotement, then they could start to break up these cells and this could lead to the cancer spreading around the body due to the faster blood flow from all of the pushing movements in effleurage which would force the cells to travel around in the blood stream. This would make the client's condition worse as the cancer will have spread and it wouldn't be clear or known to anyone until the signs and symptoms began to show. Therefore to avoid anything like this happening, you would not massage a cancer patient.

Broken/Fractured bones

When massaging, you are putting a lot of pressure on the client’s body and so if they did have a broken bone then it could be made a lot worse if you were to put all the pressure on it. It would also be very painful for the client and so if the client does have a broken or fractured bone then you would avoid massaging at all. You would also be taking away the blood supply to the injured area as it would be directed towards the area you are massaging, therefore it would take the area longer to heal as it isn’t being repaired as it doesn’t have the nutrients it needs to do so.

Recent Surgery

When massaging, you are putting a lot of pressure on the tissues in the body. If a person has had recent surgery that hasn't fully healed, then the pressure that you are putting on that area could have serious consequences for the client. Using effleurage you are using to warm the area and increase the blood flow will be taken away from the area that is trying to heal and so will take longer to heal. Also you wouldn't want to affect the wound in any way e.g. pop stitches re-arrange the inside or put the client in any pain. Therefore you wouldn't massage anyone who has had recent surgery at all.

Skin Conditions (Eczema)

When someone has eczema, their skin becomes dry and sensitive. Obviously a masseur can and should avoid the areas where the eczema is because they wouldn't want to irritate the area and make the area flare up again as this could put the client in pain and make them feel uncomfortable during and after the massage as their skin would be flaking more and the area would become very sensitive due to the thin amount of skin there. This means that they would avoid that whole area and focus on the other areas. However if the eczema is in too many places and would make it awkward for the masseur to massage then they wouldn’t do it at all.

Circulation Conditions (High Blood Pressure)

When massaging, you are increasing the blood flow to the areas being massaged by using techniques such as effleurage because of the pushing movements over the skin, this means that you are increasing the client's blood pressure. If a client already has high blood pressure, then this could be dangerous for them. This is because, when you have high blood pressure there is a lot of pressure on the blood vessels, with extra pressure on the vessel walls from the extra blood flow during massage, the vessel walls could rupture and this would cause internal bleeding for the client and this could then be fatal for them if they lose too much blood. This is why you would not massage anyone with high blood pressure.