Cold & Flu Season is Quickly Approaching!

As we head into the marathon that is cold and flu season in Rochester, I thought it would be relevant to write a blog post about what to do when you are sick and have a massage scheduled. The short answer is that you should reschedule your massage for when you are no longer sick. There are several reasons why this is the case.

You may have heard that massage therapy can play a role in boosting the immune system. Massage works to primarily reduce stress and anxiety, which enhances immune system function. However, only actual germs are able to effectively boost your immune system in a significant and specific manner to fight off illness. The initial, general immune response causes your fever, runny nose, and production of mucous among other symptoms before your targeted immune response gets underway. It is the general, system-wide immune response that, for the most part, makes you feel the worst when you are sick. With that in mind, giving a boost to your general immune response when you are already sick will likely just cause you to feel even sicker. This article discusses in more depth why boosting your immune system is not always the best idea.

Receiving a massage is also an active task for your body, as opposed to being a passive experience as it may seem. It is typical to feel a bit sore after receiving a therapeutic massage, partially due to the body’s effort to maintain homeostasis in response to internal change initiated by massage. One of the best things you can do for your body when you are sick is to rest, and your body’s response to massage may take energy away from its efforts to fight an existing infection.

The very act of lying face down on the massage table may also be uncomfortable. We have all fallen victim to gravity induced sinus pressure and congestion at some point during a massage even when healthy. The discomfort of experiencing that when you are already congested will likely hinder the therapeutic nature of your massage.

Lastly, at the risk of sounding selfish, I could get sick too. Many viruses are contagious even though they are initially asymptomatic, which may cause me to pass it along to other clients or patients in our office before I am even aware of being sick. Likewise, if I am sick I promise not to massage you!

Particular occasions that you should reschedule your appointment include:

  • Experiencing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea in the past 24 hours

  • Having a fever in the past 24 hours or other fever-related symptoms, including chills, body aches, and fatigue

  • If you are keeping the fever down with medication, unfortunately you are still sick

  • If you have a runny nose, are sneezing, or itching and you are not completely certain it is due to seasonal allergies then it may be best to play it safe

  • If you have a constant, either productive or non-productive, cough

There is often some gray area when you are recovering from a viral or bacterial infection. If you are unsure about how to move forward with your appointment, please don’t hesitate to give our office a call! Having to reschedule a massage when you are sick is a bummer, but it will prevent you from spending the time and money on something you will not be able to fully enjoy. We will happily work with you to rearrange your appointment for a date that you are healthy enough to enjoy it!

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