Can Massage Help High Blood Pressure?

If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, or hypertension, you may be wondering if it is okay to get a massage. Well, there are two answers to that question – yes and no. That may seem confusing, but the distinction is easy. If your blood pressure is under control with medication, the answer will usually be yes. If it is high and you are not taking medication, or if you are taking medication and your blood pressure is still not under control, then the answer is no.

Normal blood pressure readings hover around 120/80. The top number, usually the higher number, is called systolic and measures the pressure of your blood when the heart contracts. The lower number is diastolic and measures the pressure when the heart relaxes.

During the day, and depending on activity, your blood pressure may vary slightly. If it is consistently higher, up to 140/90, it is considered to be pre-hypertensive. At this point the doctor may or may not prescribe medication. He or she will often look at your lifestyle and recommend changes such as lowering your salt intake, reducing caffeine and quitting smoking.

Blood pressure that reaches above 140/90 up to about 159/99 is considered to be Stage I Hypertension. The most common from 160/100 – 179/109 is Stage II. A small percentage of individuals reach Stage III with blood pressure readings that go above 180/110 up to 215/125. This is very dangerous and requires immediate medical intervention. A person with these readings can suffer damage to the heart, kidneys and small delicate blood vessels.

If you are interested in getting a massage and have a history of high blood pressure (especially Stage 1 or higher) it is important to keep in mind your blood pressure must be under control and the massage should be approved by your doctor. Getting a regularly scheduled massage, once every one or two weeks can be a helpful adjunct therapy for regulating blood pressure, lowering stress and improving circulation.