Competent massage therapists will require you to fill out a complete medical history form. If your therapist doesn’t ask you for your medical history information or doesn’t read it, seek another therapist. If you indicate you have certain conditions, the therapist may ask you additional questions to ensure they understand your condition. All of this seems like overkill but is more important than you may realize. Your safety and that of the therapist are primary concerns.
Even in a spa environment, massage therapists are health care professionals. The State of Florida mandates their licensing. Their training includes knowing contraindications for massage. Contraindications are conditions or factors that suggest a person not receive a specific treatment or receive altered treatment. Examples of strict contraindications are fevers, colds, active skin conditions, infectious disease, overly high blood pressure, etc. In these cases, you may be asked to reschedule. Sometimes a therapist may ask you for your medical doctor’s approval for massage. We truly have your best interest in mind when this happens.
A massage therapist will often tailor or adjust the techniques used when a condition suggests it. However, there are also times when receiving a massage is not in your best interest. The therapist will know the potential dangers for you but not if you skimp on providing information on your health history. For example, massage increases blood circulation and can lower heart rate. This can be dangerous for people with certain heart or circulatory conditions. This is a good example of when we might request a doctor’s permission to perform massage on you. Some issues, such as varicose veins, bruises, cuts, or abrasions, suggest that you can still receive massage. However, the therapist will avoid manipulating tissues in the affected areas to avoid exacerbating the issue.
A therapist needs to know if you have any kind of neuropathy, most often found in the hands or feet. A neuropathy is a condition in which one or more of the peripheral nerves do not function properly. This condition typically causes numbness, weakness, or pain. These conditions require the therapist’s strict attention so as not to cause harm. At times, the therapist might request a doctor’s note. Again, this is for your safety.
If you are feeling under the weather or on a new medication, check in with your therapist. She or he will help you determine if massage is right for you or has the potential to make your condition worse. It is best to do this before coming in for your appointment.
The reason your therapist needs to know about even mild pain killers and other mind-altering substances is because they change your sensitivity to pain. If you cannot tell the therapist that the pressure is too deep or that you are experiencing pain, then you risk suffering unnecessary discomfort or possible injury. The massage may need adjustment or rescheduling in these cases.
If you already know that traditional massage is not good for you, consider giving Reiki a try. It’s a gentle healing technique that doesn’t require the manipulation of tissues to be effective. Its list of contraindications is very short. Basically, all we need is your permission and to not have a contageous condition.
The bottom-line is do not skimp on the details of your medical history and be sure to tell your therapist if anything has changed since the last time you came in.
At Sacred Pathways Sarasota, we prefer that if you are not feeling well or unsure about anything, give us a call. We can help steer you to the right therapy and the right timing and tell you in advance if you’ll be asked for a doctor’s note. We don’t like to ask for these; but won’t hesitate when it’s warranted. We would rather err on the side of caution than risk doing harm.