We all know that if a massage therapist is sick, they should stay home (no one wants someone coughing and sneezing all over them). But, as a client, should you still get a massage if you are sick?
Because massage is well-known for its immune-boosting powers and tension relief, many people think that getting a massage will help clear up their illness or at least offer some relief for the symptoms. However, getting a massage while your body is already working in overdrive fighting off a virus can actually make things worse!
One of the benefits of massage is the increased circulation throughout the body. Waste and toxins are pushed through your system faster than normal, which often manifests itself during the massage through congestion. If you are already dealing with stuffy sinuses, the massage and increased circulation can make symptoms like congestion worse.
In addition, if you are lying on your stomach with your face in the cradle, your runny nose will be dripping out of control. That isn’t enjoyable for you or the massage therapist!
In some cases, a massage can actually speed up recovery time. Once you are past the initial, acute state of the sickness, and if you don’t mind suffering full-blown symptoms, a massage can push everything through your body in 3-4 days as opposed to 1-2 weeks. If you have been coughing a lot, a massage can help ease the tension that has likely built up in your neck, chest, and upper back muscles, as well as relieve headaches or sinus pressure.
A good rule of thumb is if you are too sick to go to work, you are too sick to get a massage. Never come in for a massage if you are contagious, as a courtesy to your therapist and other clients.
Also, talk to your massage therapist prior to your appointment.
Other general recommendations for various illnesses include:
Flu: Skip the massage, stay in bed.
Fever, nausea, or contagious: Skip the massage, stay in bed.
Bad cold: Wait until the acute stage to get a massage.
Minor cold: Get that massage, as long as you aren’t contagious! Just be ready to deal with that stuffy nose with tissues on hand.