• Why Your Massage Therapist Asks All Those Health Questions

    Medical history form on clipboard

    Before your first massage with me, I’m going to ask you about your medical history. 

    I’ve got an online intake form that will ask about the medications you take, which medical conditions you have, and a whole host of other questions about your health history.

    So why is this? Am I being nosy? Why do I need to know such detailed, personal information about you that you may only otherwise share with your doctor? 

    While it may seem like a hassle or invasion of your privacy to fill out an intake form, there’s a great reason I want to know so much about your health: Knowing your health history not only protects you from potential injury during your massage, it also means I can better tailor your massage to your needs. This ensures that when you get off the massage table, you feel better than ever.

    What is a contraindication, and what does it have to do with my massage?

    Every so often, it turns out that for some people in specific health situations, massage could actually be harmful. This is referred to as a contraindication, and there are two different classifications of contraindications:

    Relative Contraindication: Relative contraindication means that caution should be used when performing a certain procedure. In the world of massage therapy, this means that a massage therapy session can happen, but that the therapist will need to adjust the techniques and particulars of the session (like positioning, pressure, even massage products used) to stay safe and effective. 

    Absolute Contraindication: Absolute contraindication is the term used when massage could cause harm, and should not be applied at all. This is pretty rare, but it happens.

    While typically relaxing and healing, there are times when a massage can be painful or even dangerous, for various health-related reasons. In most cases, this means we can proceed with the massage, but I’ll ask some follow up questions to keep it safe and effective. 

    Examples of massage contraindications* include:

    • Varicose veins
    • Undiagnosed lumps or bumps
    • Pregnancy
    • Bruising, cuts, abrasions, and even sunburns
    • Psoriasis
    • Eczema
    • High blood pressure
    • Cancer
    • Osteoporosis
    • Heart problems
    • Epilepsy

    *Fear not: Not all of the above listed medical conditions mean you have to give up your regular session with your massage therapist.

    For some of these conditions, massage can have major soothing effects. For others, it means that your therapist will need to take precautions and adjust the type of massage they do. This is one of the main reasons it’s vital your massage therapist knows your medical history.

    Also, colds, the flu, skin infections, or the presence of a fever are all reasons to wait to get a massage until you are feeling better.  I promise to never massage you while I’m knowingly sick or contagious and I ask you to show me the same courtesy. I’d much rather you cancel the morning of your appointment because you woke up sick, than come in and risk infecting me with whatever cold, flu, or plague you’ve come down with.

    Why does my massage therapist need to know what medications I am taking?

    There are some medications that have an effect on your body’s ability to heal and adjust to deeper, more invasive techniques. I need to be aware of what you’re taking so I can make adjustments to the pressure, products, and techniques I use during your massage if needed.

    For example, a firm deep tissue massage could be very dangerous if you are taking blood thinners. If you’ve been on corticosteroids for a long time, you may have low bone density or thin skin as a result. 

    Again, in almost all cases, we can make adjustments to keep your massage safe and effective, the key is to keep me fully informed. 

    TL;DR

    In a nutshell, even if you think a detail may be irrelevant, it’s smart to complete my intake form completely and honestly. That helps me create the best and safest massage, just for you.