Archives for category: Contraindications

A couple of days ago, I awoke in a panic with this on my mind and have been simmering on it trying to figure out a way to share this very important information with my clients and colleagues.

How many times have my clients forgotten to tell me what medicines they are taking? OMG a million times over! And this is so very important not only for their health but for mine! Some medicines are contraindicated for massage because while taking it, harm can come to the individual who is on those drugs. Some medicines are contraindicated because while taking it, the massage can be negated rather quickly. Some medicines are contraindicated because they are topical and can cross over to the therapist. Yes, I said that!

I have on my intake form What medicines are you taking for a reason. I have to be able to determine how and where I can work on you. I don’t just rub bodies.

Additionally, I have on my intake the direct question of Are you taking any topical medicines? This is doubly important!

I’m not sure why, but many people feel that if it is a cream or gel, it isn’t really a medicine. That is so not true! Just because it fades into your skin almost immediately does not mean it is not still working, or able to be transmitted to someone who touches that area. ESPECIALLY if that person is doing a bit more than just rubbing it and is actually reactivating the agent using oils and creams and friction!

A few years ago a colleague was having medical issues. She found out that she was overdosing on female hormones because a client she was seeing multiple times a week was using a topical version of the same thing she was taking. When my colleague found out she was ODing somehow I asked her if any of her clients were on hormones and taking them topically. We surveyed and got our answer.

I immediately changed my intake forms to include that.

Fast forward.

How many of you know a man with low testosterone? How much more prevalent is the advertisement of drugs for low T? How many people believe that talking about anything in that region is taboo and should be avoided at all costs? How many people are embarrassed about why they might have to take any kind of drug? If they are hiding it from their spouse or significant other, do you think maybe they might “forget” to put that on their intake massage when they are “just going for a bit of relaxation in a massage?” Absolutely!

Testosterone gel is rubbed onto the body (the insert I saw suggested the pectoral muscles, shoulders or belly) daily. How many male shoulders and pecs do you think I work on? Um every client male or female that comes in to see me gets worked on there! Female hormones are generally rubbed onto the hips or belly, and I work on just about every hip that comes into my office too .. male or female. Bellies I do work on, but not as often.

It clearly says on the package that females are NOT to touch treated areas. In fact some say women are not to touch the treated areas for at least 6 hours. And if so to wash hands thoroughly with alcohol. Others say it is never safe for a female to touch  a treated area and that a shirt should be worn during intercourse. Massage isn’t intercourse, but I’m doing quite a bit of touching.

I would say that massage is much more intense than mere touch.

OK … that’s just the hormones….

I’ve heard stories of clients coming in with pain patches who thought they were not working only to have the therapist have to stop the session because her tongue went numb from all the pain meds on the person’s body. That’s from patches not even creams! Who would have thought? Needless to say, because of this, I will not work on anyone who has a pain patch. Sorry, I don’t need a dose of pain meds. I need to be able to feel what I am doing to work on my clients.

OK … so what about other topicals?

Many people take topical steroids for different issues. Those are also able to be transferred to others. I don’t need steroids either, but thanks!

How many people out there forget that supplements are drugs? How many people forget that topical are drugs? How many people out there think that massage therapist just don’t need to know the medicines they are taking and don’t fill out the intake completely?

Please, I’m begging you. Be honest with your therapists! It’s not just about being able to take care of you the way we need to. It is about being able to take care of all of our clients and also ourselves. Please fill out your intake forms completely. Please be honest. We aren’t asking just to be nosy.

If you are coming in to get a massage and you are taking topicals, IF IT IS POSSIBLE … please apply in an area that I will not be working on. If your low back is hurting, I’ll need to work on your hips. If your neck and upper back are hurting, I’ll need to work on your shoulders and pecs. Bellies are generally safe unless I’m doing abdominal work of course. If it is not possible to put in a different area, maybe try to apply AFTER your appointment instead of before. If that is not possible, we therapists, understand! But we, as therapists will need to work around that area. And if you choose to deliberately withhold that information from us just so you can get an awesome massage, please know OUR health is quite literally at stake in that decision.

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It happens. At least once every season, a client comes into my office with a fever and awful cough or sneezing, thinking that a massage is a good idea. Sigh. It’s hard to turn people away, even when I know I shouldn’t touch them. Prevention is the best option here, and that means education, so you know to cancel when you are sick. And also so I don’t have to feel bad when I have to turn someone away.

shouldi1Short answer: Yes, please.

Long Answer: Yes, please.

Massage is great. You know this. But it’s not always a great idea.

As cold and flu season approaches again, it’s important that you know when it may be necessary to cancel your appointment.

Why? 

When you are sick, your body needs rest. It’s strange to think about it this way, but receiving massage is an active task, it is not entirely rest. Massage causes change in the body, and your body has to work to maintain stability. Getting a massage when you are sick takes attention away from infection-fighting. That’s no good.

You’re not going to be cozy on the massage table.  Sure, it sounds like a warm squishy massage table would be great. But the moment you put your already-stuffy head into that face cradle, you’ll realize the error of your ways. Gravity and pressure are not your friend here. Even if I use all the sinus draining essential oils in my kit and do a great face massage to drain your sinuses, you’ll likely feel worse when you get off the table.

You could get me sick. Since most of the common winter viruses are contagious even before symptoms show up, I could pass the cooties along to more clients before I even know it’s happening. Many of my clients are cancer clients with weakened immune systems due to chemotherapy, radiation and other medications. I disinfect my office often, but again, prevention is better than fixing a problem.

Further, when I get sick, I have to cancel clients and take a few days off work. I work for myself, with no paid sick days to compensate for lost wages. My schedule is typically packed, which means when I do get sick and have to cancel, I have to shuffle schedules around for a LOT of people, not just myself. Sure, as a responsible business owner I have a fund for these situations. But I would rather use that fund for a nice dinner with my family or a fancy new oil holster. So I’m gonna try to stay germ-free this winter.

So it’s a deal. You’ll cancel so as not to infect me and my massage room, and I’ll do the same for you. We’ll keep each other safe.

When to cancel

If you have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea in the past 24 hours, or are still feeling punky from a recent bout of such things.

If you’ve had a fever in the past 24 hours, or fever-related symptoms. This includes chills, aches, and fatigue. Even if you’re keeping the fever down with medicine, you’re still sick. The fever counts.

If you are itchy, runny, and/or sneezy, and you’re not 100% certain it’s seasonal allergies. And even then, allergies may leave you so miserable that the hour on my table would be wasted time and money for you. I’ve had my share of allergy issues this year, which is a rarity, but if I worked, I felt ok to do so, knew the triggers that caused the allergic reaction, and was actively treating, sanitizing, and trying to keep my clients safe. I cancelled more this year due to allergies than I have in 5 years!

If you are coughing constantly, or just a lot.

If someone in your household is ill and you are feeling at all funky, please cancel.

There is often some gray area here, especially if you are in the recovery phase of a virus or bacterial infection.  If you’re unsure about your situation, please call me before your appointment and we can make a decision together.  <<I have a 24 hour cancellation policy, but that all goes out the window when illness is the reason, and communication was made beforehand.>>

dr no.jpegAs much as I would love to say yes, in all actuality, the answer is No, there are several medical conditions that would make massage inappropriate.

Part of my training is learning when massage is appropriate and when it is not, but if I don’t have all the information, then my choice on path of action may not be the best. 

This is why it is necessary that you fill out the health history form fully and truthfully before you begin your session, and why I do take the time to ask you questions to clarify in some answers.

I try to keep my intake short and sweet, so I will ask general health questions to rule out if you have any contraindications to massage. It is very important that you are honest and inform me of any health problems or medications you are taking. Even if the questions seem trivial, they may be more important than you might realize.

Some medicines do not mix well with massage at all, while others do, but only in some ways. Some medicines do not mix well with heat or essential oils. So your health is always of utmost concern when asking questions about medicines you may be taking.

If you are under a doctor’s care, it is strongly advised that you receive a written recommendation for massage prior to any session. I may  even require a recommendation or approval from your doctor. I would much rather work WITH your doctor to help you on your path to health and wellbeing than work in a way that contradicts anything your doctor may be aiming for.