Are Massage Chairs Safe During Pregnancy?

A baby on the way can give a mix of both excitement as well as dread. Excitement stems from looking forward to a new addition to the family while dread is usually the result of numerous changes a mother’s body will undergo.

For women who have experienced pregnancy or are currently pregnant, they are very much familiar with the chronic back, shoulder, neck and stomach pain as well as strain. These mild aches and cramps are normal in pregnancy but should not be disregarded altogether.

One of the most popular pain relief items in the market are massage chairs and it also provides a relaxing sensation. Because of its popularity, many pregnant women are interested to try massage chairs to know if these will also give them the same benefits a non-pregnant person receives.  However, a question that they have with massage chairs is the supposed negative effects of the chair to them or their baby.

Massage Chairs in Pregnancy – The Bad

  1. The Heating Modules:

One of the features of massage chairs that make pregnant women doubt its effectiveness and safety is the heating modules. This is attributed to a condition known as hyperthermia which is caused by high body temperature. Hyperthermia can be a result by simply using a hot bath tub that can actually increase the body temperature to 38.9 degrees Celsius according to Mayoclinic. Effects of high temperature for the baby especially when they are exposed to it in the first trimester include the high incidence of brain and spinal cord abnormalities. Despite massage chairs only having heat modules for the back area and the calves, pregnant women should still use caution even though these heating modules are not enough to increase a person’s body temperature.

Tips To Avoid Any Damage from Heat Therapy in Massage Chairs

  • Do not use heat therapy in the massage chair during the first trimester
  • Do not use heat therapy during summer
  • If a woman uses heat therapy during pregnancy, it should not exceed 10 to 15 minutes
  • When using the massage chair and the woman starts to sweat or feel very hot, discontinue its use.
  1. Preterm Labor:

A longstanding belief about pressure points is that it influences the reproductive system. For pregnant women, premature labor is believed to be a risk when the pressure points on the feet, legs and ankles are stimulated. Massage therapists are trained to pinpoint and stay away from these pressure points when giving pregnant women a massage as it is believed to directly affect the uterus.

Despite this belief, the medical field do not support these claims. According to them, the situation of premature labor as induced by pressure points on the feet, legs and ankles is impossible. There are also no research studies to back this claim that can be proven by evidences. Nevertheless, even though there are two opposing views on the issue, women should still be cautious.

In using massage chairs, most models have foot rollers which provide reflexology as well as airbags that massage the ankles and legs. These features may or may not induce labor through the pressure points. To prevent direct contact with the foot rollers and airbags, the woman may put her legs on a different chair and not on the massager.

Massage Chairs in Pregnancy – The Good

  1. Back Pain Relief:

A common struggle with pregnancy is back pain where 80% of women in the world are suffering from chronic back pain in the course of their pregnancy. This pain ranges from mild aches on the lower back to full blown chronic pain. This can be addressed by massage chairs and its accompanying heat therapy. However, women should still be careful with the heat therapy given the belief surrounding increased heat causing hyperthermia.

Recommended Reading:  How Massage Chairs Heal Massage Chairs Heal Back Pain?

  1. Reduces Anxiety and Boosts Mood:

Massage is also a great way to alleviate anxiety and bad mood as supported by research which examined 32 female respondents with healthy bodies to determine if a 45 minute massage can influence their anxiety and mood. Results of the study showed that the respondent’s’ condition improved even after only one massage.

  1. Improves Immunity:

A healthy life depends on good immunity especially for expecting women.

The research respondents were colorectal cancer patients who underwent chemotherapy that resulted to a weaker immune system as it destroys white blood cells. Massage can aid in this situation as discovered by researchers since it facilitates the increase of lymphocytes which strengthen a person’s immunity.

Recommended Reading: 51 Reasons To Get A Massage (Studies)

Summing it up:

 Plenty of beliefs surround the use of massage chairs in pregnancy and some of these beliefs claim that massage chairs are not safe. In reality, there are few or no research or proof at all on this specific subject to validate one opinion over the other. It is recommended for pregnant women to stay on the safe side by consulting with a doctor before using a massage chair especially as many are susceptible to high risk pregnancy. For those whose doctors gave the green light in using a massage chair, keep in mind the suggested tips to safeguard your health.

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