Massage & Diving

I've been told not get a deep tissue massage the same day as diving because it can cause Decompression Sickness. Is this true?
You raise an interesting question about the possible association between massage and DCS risk. Some have cautioned against massage before diving. The clearest justification is to avoid muscle pain that might be attributed to DCS. A more speculative concern is to minimize the development of micronuclei. The nature and action of micronuclei have not been confirmed, but it is believed that they are the seeds from which bubbles form. There is a theoretical concern that tissue massage may induce micronuclei formation and thus precipitate bubble formation. Tissue stimulation could also increase blood flow which may either positively enhance tissue gas elimination or precipitate problematic bubble formation.

As you can see, there is no clear sense of what massage might do and this effect would likely vary depending on dive profiles and intensity of the massage. We should note that massage has not been confidently associated with any of the cases of DCS that have come to us, and we are not aware of any study done to address this question. The clearest piece of advice is that deep tissue massage should probably be avoided, so that the potential of post-dive pain and diagnostic confusion are minimized.

Dr. Nick Bird MD.
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6 Comments


cell line supplier - January 26th, 2016 at 5:29am

An interesting one, ha ha, do you mind if I share it in my blog?

Peter Southwood - January 30th, 2016 at 9:49am

There seems to be a tendency in the medical profession to advise against things as the default action when they actually do not have a clue. Why not just admit that nothing is known and refrain entirely from giving advice? This would be a more intellectually honest response.

Sarah - January 10th, 2017 at 1:53pm

I'm here to back up NOT getting a massage. I've dived before, never remotely getting vertigo or nausea. Yesterday I did three dives & had an hour long massage. Woke up in the middle of the night to extreme vertigo (room spinning like crazy) and committed 5 times. It immediately made sense to me as a nurse & I knew it had to be the massage causing those blood gases to create chaos.

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