Archive for tag: illness

When Massage May Not Be a Good Idea

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 program

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 order.

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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 resting."

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 are unreliable."

""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 process."

"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.