Pathologies, Massage, and Contraindication – By Vanessa Ragains

Last week I shared the 5 must-have books to own for the Massage Therapist career. Each of these is references that support us in providing massages to our client. They provide us with quick answers to certain situations that may come up during our practice with individual clients, how we run our business, and how to maintain our own bodies throughout this demanding career. During the next few weeks we will discover certain Pathologies, and how we determine whether or not massage is contraindicated, when we should request a doctor’s note, and who we should refer them to if we are unsure of the situation. Remember, Massage therapists can suggest but never diagnose a client.

Pathologies, Massage, and Contraindications Part 1

When you think of massage, what comes to your mind? Relaxation, stress reduction, stretching, deep tissue, range of motion just to name a few. Did you know that some circumstances, in this case, pathologies may cause massage to not support the body? Actually making the issue worse?

This is quite a discussion! Don’t worry, we are going to break down certain Pathologies one-by-one. Each one will include symptoms, risks, and, of course, My opinion on how I handle this situation.

Let’s begin with the Common Cold/Flu or Influenza.

Common Cold: an infection of the respiratory system

Symptoms: nasal discharge, sore throat, mild fever, dry coughing, headache

Risks: Since this pathology is contagious it is the therapists call whether they want to massage their client.

Benefits: Energy work can be beneficial to someone who is having difficulty moving past the peak of the cold. This is optional if the therapist is comfortable working with this client.

My Opinion: I made this a part of my policies for in-home sessions a couple years ago. If my client is sick and on antibiotics, I will reschedule their session. In the past, I arrived at a client’s home for their session only to realize that they were battling a cold. In this scenario, I explain that it is not a good idea to massage them since their body is fighting off this virus. The main reason I added this to my policies was because I do my best to keep myself healthy. If I become ill, I will have to cancel the rest of my week. That is not my favorite thing to do, so I will reschedule that client to a later date.

Flu or Influenza: viral infection in the respiratory tract

Symptoms: high fever, muscle and joint achiness, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, general malaise

Risks: Highly contagious. Best to delay bodywork until the acute phase passes

Benefits: Gentle, reflexive or energetic work might be appropriate, but using caution as this pathology is very contagious. After the acute phase, massage can restore vitality and energy.

My Opinion: Again, I follow my policy that I stated earlier. In this case, depending on how bad the acute phase was, I may require a doctor’s note stating that the client is cleared to continue their massage sessions. Below is a short video showing one of my go-to remedies for supporting the Common Cold/Influenza.

Is there a Pathology you would be interested in reading about? I would love your suggestions on certain pathologies that you may need to see in the breakdown. Check back next week for our next discussion on Pathologies, Massage, and Contraindications!

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my blog. I am looking forward to reviewing common and uncommon Pathologies that we may encounter on our journey of being a Massage therapist. For all you awesome clients out there, I hope you learn why massage can actually be contraindicated with certain pathologies and precautions you and your therapist need to take.

I LOVE YOUR QUESTIONS!! Please feel free to ask me a question or comment about what you read today. Looking forward to hearing from radical Folks like yourself!


All this information come from one of my must-have books for the massage career: A Massage Therapist Guide to Pathology. 5th Edition Author: Ruth Werner



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