Massage Therapy

Here at the Ballinasloe Cancer Support Centre we offer appointments for Massage Therapy, free of charge for people affected by cancer. All services are carried out by professionals who volunteer their time and efforts in support of our cause.

Therapy sessions are currently available every Wednesday. If you would like to book an appointment, please contact us, 090 9645574,

About Message Therapy

Massage therapy is a system of treatment that works by stroking, kneading, tapping or pressing the soft tissues of the body.

Massage therapy has been used for centuries. It aims to relax you mentally and physically. It may concentrate on the muscles, the soft tissues, or on the acupuncture points.

Massage techniques can range from being soft and gentle to vigorous and brisk. They may sometimes even be a bit uncomfortable. Therapists may treat your whole body or concentrate on a specific part, such as your head, neck or shoulders.

There are several types of massage:

  • Swedish massage – most common type of full body massage

  • aromatherapy massage

  • deep tissue massage – used for long standing, deep muscular problems

  • sports massage – used before or after sport or to help heal sports injuries

  • Shiatsu

  • neuromuscular massage – helps to balance the nervous system and the muscle

  • reflexology – applied to points on the hands and feet with the aim of improving the health of other parts of the body

How it works

Gentle forms of massage such as aromatherapy affect your nerve endings. This could release chemicals called endorphins which can reduce pain.

Stronger methods, such as Swedish massage, aim to stimulate your blood circulation and lymphatic system, relax muscles and ease knotted tissues that can cause pain and stiffness.

Some types of massage such as shiatsu may also gently stretch parts of your body to release stiffness.

Why people with cancer use it

One of the main reasons people with cancer use massage is because it helps them feel good. It is a way they feel they can help themselves.

Generally, massage therapy can help lift your mood, improve your sleep and enhance your well being. There is some evidence to help support these benefits.

Massage for people with cancer is promoted as a natural way to help you relax and cope with:

  • stress

  • anxiety

  • headaches

  • pain

What having massage involves

On your first visit, the therapist asks you some general questions about your health, lifestyle and medical history. They might ask to speak to your GP if they are concerned that massage could interfere with your health or any medicines you are taking. In general, it is rare that your doctor will say no.

When you have shiatsu massage you normally lie fully clothed on soft mats on the floor.

With most other massage therapies, you lie on a massage table for your treatment. You might need to take off your clothes, except for your underwear. Your therapist then covers you in a gown or large towels, exposing only the parts of your body that they are working on. 

When you have a whole body treatment, you lie face down for the first half of the treatment, then on your back for the rest of it.

Most massage sessions last an hour, but this can depend on your therapist. Your therapist might play some relaxing music during the session.

The amount of pressure your therapist applies when massaging you can vary greatly between the types of massage. Most people say that having a massage is very relaxing and soothing. But you should let your therapist know if you feel uncomfortable and want them to stop at any time.

Your massage therapist may advise you to drink a glass of water when your treatment has finished because you might feel thirsty.

Remember that your therapist should never massage your genital area or touch you in what you feel is a sexual way. You can stop the session and leave if you are uncomfortable at any time during your massage

Possible side effects

Most people don’t have any side effects from having a massage. But you might feel a bit light headed, sleepy, tired or thirsty afterwards. Some people can feel a bit emotional or tearful for a while.

Research into massage and cancer

There is no scientific evidence that massage can treat cancer. But it is commonly used to help people feel better, and to reduce some cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.

Trials have been carried out to find out whether massage can help people with cancer but many are small studies.

 For cancer symptoms

 For women with breast cancer

 For people with advanced cancer

 Teaching massage to carers

Who shouldn’t use massage therapy

People with cancer should avoid very deep massage. Gentler types may be safer.

Some people worry that having a massage when you have cancer may make the cancer cells travel to other parts of the body. But no research has proved this to be true.

Sometimes massage techniques might need to be adapted if you:

  • are having cancer treatment

  • are very weak

  • have bone fractures

  • have heart problems

  • suffer from arthritis

  • are pregnant or breastfeeding

Always talk to your cancer doctor or specialist nurse before using any type of commercial massage therapy. An adapted treatment offered from a therapist in a cancer care centre or hospice might be more appropriate for you.

Avoid massaging any area of your body where you are having radiotherapy to. And don’t have massage to areas where your skin is broken, bleeding or bruised.

You should avoid general massage therapy to your arms or legs if they are swollen because of lymphoedema. Lymphoedema is a build up of fluid due to the lymphatic system not draining properly. This might be a result of surgery to remove the lymph nodes, or damage to the lymph nodes or lymphatic vessels from radiotherapy.

There is a specific type of massage used for lymphoedema called manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). This is a very specialised treatment and people who need MLD are referred to a lymphoedema specialist by their doctor or specialist nurse.

*All information about Cancer Treatments is provided by Cancer Research UK