Kat asks – Is getting a Massage when you’re sick a good idea?
For most people being sick or unwell usually makes you feel horrible, achy, lethargic, and generally just bleh.
And for just about everyone getting a massage helps you feel awesome and on top of the world!
So, it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it – getting a massage when you are not feeling well is a good idea…right?
Well, the only correct answer is NO … Especially right now with the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19!
Remedial Massage is great when you are healthy, but while you are actively unwell massage can make you feel worse and put those around you (like your Therapist and any other people in the clinic at the time) at risk of catching what ails you. This is one of those times where we don’t want what you have!
Why is it so?
When you are sick, your body wants to slow down. You find yourself feeling tired & achy, and you are not overly interested in food. This is a general response from your body to persuade you not to exert yourself or load it up with heavy meals to digest while your body is trying its hardest to combat the disease within and heal.
Fevers/chills, swollen lymph glands, unusual fatigue, loss of appetite, runny or blocked nose, sore throat, cough, sneezing, headaches, upset stomach, etc., these are all indications that you are not well and your body is trying hard to fight something off. To fight the disease effectively your body needs to redirect energy to the immune system and, therefore, other body systems (like the desire to be active and/or eat) start to feel sluggish and diminished.
Any massage will stimulate superficial and peripheral sensations, encouraging the body to direct circulation to the muscles. Remedial Massage, especially, can be quite the workout for your body and can push the offending pathogens around your body faster than they would have spread otherwise. This makes your immune system work that much harder to chase it all down and remedy your sickness. It can also potentially encourage the illness to temporarily worsen – and we want you to feel better after seeing us, not worse!
So, when IS it a good idea?
If you are feeling well – and not exhibiting any signs or symptoms of illness Remedial Massage is awesome and can stimulate/boost your immune system (potentially preventing you from getting sick in the first place). The best by-product of any massage is increased blood flow, stimulating the lymphatic system, decreasing stress (which can suppress your immune system), and just generally helping you feel wonderful. In these circumstances – Remedial Massage is not only a good thing, but it is highly recommended to support good health.
If you have been sick but recovered – and are no longer showing any signs or symptoms –
and to be clear, feeling better after taking a Codral does not count as being recovered –
you must be showing no signs and symptoms without the use of medications
– a gentle Remedial Massage (or indeed a Lymphatic Drainage Massage) can help mobilise any residual debris from the immune system response and help ease tension in muscles caused by coughing/sneezing.
If you have been … seriously unwell, undergoing cancer treatment, or have a chronic illness – please check with your GP, Oncologist, or Specialist as to whether massage is OK for you, and get them to write you a letter of ‘Clearance for Massage Treatment’ if necessary. In some instances, and for some people, massage can potentially cause a flare-up of your symptoms, and/or interfere with your medications or treatments. We are always more than happy to work with other health professionals to get the best result for you!
What types of massage can you get after being sick?
Lymphatic Drainage Massage (LDM) is a very light and gentle massage that specifically targets the lymphatic system. The Lymphatic System sits just under your skin and that is why LDM is done so lightly and slowly – to stimulate flow, not block or hinder it. Unlike your circulatory system, your lymphatic system does not have a pump and relies on respiration and skeletal muscle contraction to keep everything moving. So, whereas your heart pumps your blood, it is the action of breathing and moving your body that keeps your lymphatics flowing. Your immune system lives inside your lymphatic system, and after being unwell this system can be particularly sluggish … so an LDM could be just the ticket to helping you feel one hundred per cent again.
Remedial Massage can start gently and slowly work deeper as your muscles and tolerance for pressure allow, releasing the tightness that may have been caused by coughing and/or sneezing, and the physical stress of being unwell. It can also be something nice after feeling gross for a few days, but please keep in mind that your body will be feeling a bit fragile after being unwell, so the pressure you are normally used to could be too much for you to deal with for a little while.
Other FAQ’s include …
Should you get a hard massage after being sick?
No, not straight away. As mentioned above, a remedial treatment can be quite a workout for the body. It has just essentially waged war against an invading pathogen and will need some TLC for a few days after recovering. Starting with either lymphatic drainage or a gentler version of a remedial treatment will do wonders! Chat with your therapist and they can decide on the best course of action to help you feel your amazing self again.
What about if you have a communicable disease like HIV, Hepatitis, etc.?
Please tell your therapist. It generally will not preclude you from massage, but it lets us know to be especially aware of any wounds, and in the extremely unlikely case of anything happening where we need to call you an ambulance, we can alert them too. Please cover all wounds with appropriate dressings before your massage.
Do you have a blood-clotting issue, or are on blood thinners?
If you have a blood-clotting issue or are on blood thinners, we need to know about these before your massage so please tell us. Again, these issues won’t preclude you from massage, but we will need to make sure we adjust our pressure and re-think what massage aides we use on you.
Do you have a chronic illness that you take medication for?
Again, please tell your therapist. Some of our oils and balms may adversely affect your medications, or potentially worsen/aggravate your illness. We have plenty of plain, unscented oil in the clinic if you are unsure of any potential interactions.