Most people are great candidates for the relaxation and health
benefits of massage therapy. However, there are times when a
massage may not be the right choice.
"Certain conditions contraindicate massage, either because of
the risk it may pose to the client or to the therapist," says
Patricia Coe, DC, ND, clinic supervisor for National University
of Health Sciences' massage therapy
At NUHS, massage students learn how to communicate with clients
about their health conditions and assess whether a massage is the
right choice for them that day, which techniques are advisable, and
when a note or consultation with a client's physician is in
For example, if a client has a cold, flu, or other contagious
viral or bacterial infection, the therapist may decline to work
with them so that they don't catch a cold and risk passing the
infection to other clients.
"When a client has a cold or flu, a massage might seem
comforting," says Dr. Coe. "However, when someone has an infection,
their body is already working hard to fight it and recover. A
massage can be very stimulating internally and place certain
demands on the body during a time when your client should be simply
Another occasion when a massage should be postponed is if the
client is intoxicated. Many folks seek out massage while on
vacation or under stress. They may have also had a few cocktails to
relax as well. "Intoxication is a risk during massage," says
Dr. Coe, "primarily because it desensitizes the client. This makes
it hard for them to give the therapist reliable feedback. A massage
therapist needs to know what level of pressure is comfortable and
what is too much. If you're client is intoxicated, those sensations
""An acute injury is also likely to be a contraindication to
massage," says Dr. Coe. "Although it may seem like a great idea to
get a massage immediately after straining a muscle, if there is
damage to the area, massage may actually interfere with the healing
"A good therapist will guide the discussion on health issues so
that they can determine the right technique for a client and
whether or not a massage is contraindicated," says Dr. Coe. "In our
program we give students the tools to do this."
"The healing benefits of massage therapy are many, and it is
fairly rare to encounter situations where massage is
contraindicated for very long," according to Dr. Coe.
This month we have a guest blog from Ecktor Barrientos, a recent
Massage Therapy graduate:
Wow. This year came and went so quickly,
and it was a year that changed my life. I graduated from NUHS this
past Thursday with an Associate of Applied Science in Massage
Therapy. I couldn't have chosen a better career or a better
school. Now I'm moving to California in October and see what my
I noticed NUHS one day while driving down Roosevelt Road. I've
driven past it many times since I spent my whole life growing up
and living here in the Chicago area. But this time, I saw a sign
that said "Massage Therapy Intro Course," and something just told
me that I should check it out.
So I called the school to register for the next intro course. I
took it and fell in love! Something about the atmosphere of the
school just struck me that this is the place I needed to go.
Graduating from NUHS feels like such a privilege. I've met so
many amazing people, learned a lot more than I thought I was going
to (which is never a bad thing!), and met some of the best
instructors I've had in my entire school career! I know I'm going
to miss everyone I met at this school. It pretty much became a
second home for this past year. And now that I'm out, I have to
Before I enrolled for classes, I had the opportunity to go to
California. I had been to California with friends once before in
2011 and I fell in love with it. It felt like home. This second
trip was to actually see my significant other who lives out there.
He is the one that has stood by me this whole year and pushed me to
keep going. In October I will be moving there to be with him.
Since I've always known I wanted to go to California, he gave me
the reason to finally do it. And with massage therapy, I'll have
the means to support myself there.
I've always been in the health field, and I worked in a hospital
up until a couple months ago. I also am certified in Reiki and have
been doing that for a couple years. Now I have found my modality in
the healing arts. NUHS helped me make that dream a reality and I
cannot be more thankful.
Going for a degree in massage therapy was my dream. Now I'll see
what the future holds for me and take one step at a time!
Recent findings from the Touch Research Institutes of the
University of Miami School of Medicine show marked improvement in
those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis after massage
Specifically, after moderate pressure massage therapy, those
with rheumatoid arthritis had less pain, greater grip strength and
improved range of motion in their upper limbs. (Read a summary of this latest research.)
In fact, the Arthritis Foundation has great things to say about
massage therapy as a pain relief option for those living with
arthritis. Research has shown that massage can lower the body's
production of the stress hormone cortisol, and boost production of
serotonin, which, in turn, can improve mood. Additionally, massage
can lower production of the neurotransmitter substance P, often
linked to pain, improving sleep as a result. (Read the three-page report on massage therapy and
When you train as a massage therapist in a clinical environment,
you'll have more exposure to clients seeking massage for medical
conditions, such as arthritis. A key advantage in earning your massage therapy
certification at National University of Health Sciences is its
internship in the on-campus integrative medical clinic. Here, you
will not only practice massage geared toward relaxation and
wellness, but also have the chance to work with clients referred by
physicians from a variety of medical specialties. Your massage will
be part of an over all treatment plan managed by the client's
Caitlin Spencer enjoys a rewarding career in massage therapy,
and is able to bring her experience to community service outreach.
She credits her training at National University of Health Sciences
in providing her the expert skills she uses every day in a busy
commercial massage center.
If you would like to explore the many advantages of starting
your massage therapy career with certification from National
University, visit the Massage Therapy Admissions site.
Online resources are great for massage therapists, but there's
nothing like exploring your options live and in-person. That's why
Therapy Information Night at National University is so
special. You can meet others just like you, who are
interested in massage therapy. You can talk to massage instructors
who've had years of real world experience. You can ask
questions, tour our campus, and see what studying massage therapy
in a health science university is really like.
After all, massage is one profession where ultimately the most
important things take place live and in-person. In our
digital world, the healing touch of a real person "here and now,"
through massage therapy, is so nurturing to people. Likewise,
meeting and talking to real massage therapists is often the best
way to learn about the career.
Why not make plans to come to our next Massage Therapy
Information Night here at National University? There are new
information nights scheduled for June and July, and more throughout
the year. You can register online, or call
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