I’ve been a massage therapist for over 15 years now and in that time I’ve heard a fair amount of griping about “all the paperwork” that we ask you to fill out before your first massage with us. Let me assure you we don’t do it because we have some unnatural love of unnecessary paperwork. We hate paperwork as much as anyone else. The thing is, it’s necessary. Sometimes, it’s even required.
Most states now license massage therapists. Many of those states spell out the information that must be in the client file. For instance, here are a few of the things required in the state of Michigan where I’m licensed:
Different states have different requirements and since I have my state’s regulations bookmarked I’m using them as my examples.
Sometimes the law dictates what personal information we collect from you.
Aside from basic information about you, we also need to know about surgeries, allergies, and what medications and supplements you’re taking because:
What affects one part of your body will likely affect another. Also, we don’t want to use products that contain ingredients you’re allergic to.
There are two types of contagious conditions I’m going to address today: skin conditions and respiratory infections. (I’m going to leave systemic or blood infections for another post.)
If you have a contagious skin condition, like athletes foot or ringworm, and we massage over the contagious area, we run the very real risk of spreading the infection to other areas on your body and/or developing that condition ourselves. I’m sure you don’t want the condition to spread. I mean, isn’t one contagious spot enough? I’m also sure that we don’t want to contract the condition ourselves. You might imagine that that might make us a bit unhappy since we can’t work if we have a contagious skin condition on our hands or forearms or any other area we use to massage. If we can’t work, we don’t get paid. Plus we now have to go to the doctor to get the condition treated. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this.
If you have a contagious respiratory infection like a cold or the flu, you are not only going to most likely spread it to us (and everyone else you come into contact with) you also run the very real risk of making your own symptoms worse. Yes. For reals.
Since you’re a considerate person, I know you won’t want anyone else to feel as lousy as you do when you’ve got a respiratory infection, so I won’t go on about that aspect. But, I’m equally certain that you don’t want to feel worse. So if you can’t summon altruism as your driving factor to reschedule when you’re sick, use your selfishness and stay home, get lots of rest, and get better.
If you have a contagious skin condition, you shouldn’t be turned away because of it; we can easily massage around it (unless it covers your entire body, but that brings up a whole other set of questions and issues).
If you have a contagious respiratory infection, please reschedule your massage as soon as you know (or think) that you’ll still be contagious at your appointment time.
So now that you understand why we ask some of the questions we do, please don’t raise a stink about the “invasive” questions or tell us you shouldn’t have to fill out all this paperwork since you’re “just getting a massage.” I guarantee you we don’t ask you to fill out these forms for our health. Well, maybe a little bit for our health (see above). Mostly, we ask for YOUR health. And because the law says we have to.