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The Fainting Phenomenom

I completed a post graduate certificate in Seated Massage in 1999. No mention was ever made about the possibility of a client fainting during a 15 minute chair massage.

The first client to faint on me was a pregnant woman ! With great difficulty, I managed to get her off the chair, lie her on the floor and raise her legs. Once she had recovered, we discussed the incident. She related that she had fainted when the doctor informed her that she was pregnant. This put my mind at ease. I figured that my massage, of itself, had not caused her to faint. In some way, she had been pre-disposed to the fainting spell.

Subsequently, further isolated cases of a client feeling nausea or fainting occurred.

These included

  • a woman who usually felt nauseous when donating blood.
  • a woman who was having her periods.
  • a diabetic lady who had missed her mid-morning snack.
  • one interesting case was a lady who had been receiving seated massage for 2 years. On one occasion she fainted. When we discussed the incident we could not find any predisposing event/factor. She continued to receive seated massage on a weekly basis, and did not experience another fainting episode, or even nausea again.

It is interesting to note that, apart from one male, all my clients who fainted during a seated massage session were female !

I already knew that massage brings about the relaxation response, one element of which is lowering of blood pressure. At the end of a table massage the client is advised to lie there for a while, then slowly get up, even to sit on the edge of the table before standing.

An explanation slowly formed in my mind, and each case of nausea or fainting added further weight to its validity. I formed the opinion that on the day they had fainted, each of these people (for whatever reason) had low blood pressure and that seated massage lowered their blood pressure even more…enough to cause them to faint.

Some time after this I came across, quite by accident, a short paper written by the acknowledged “Father” of seated massage, David Palmer. In the article Palmer discusses the fainting phenomenom and gives his explanation of why it happens.

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