By Sonya Edmonds.
After looking forward to your massage treatment all week you suddenly come down with a head cold. Very disappointing; now you feel even more miserable! Should you push through and have your treatment anyway, after all massage can boost your immune system right? This is a question I am often asked and very relevant at this time of year with cold and flu germs out in force.
Basically, the best advice is to save your massage for when you are feeling better. There are 3 main reasons you shouldn’t have a massage when you are sick.
- Firstly, you may be contagious, especially in the early stages of a cold or flu. Therefore, you need to minimise contact with others to prevent the spread of infection. Your massage therapist and future clients will thank you for it!
- Massage increases circulation helping the body to remove waste products. Initially this sounds like a positive. However, your body is already working hard to fight off the infection, you don’t want to add to its workload. Also this would exacerbate your symptoms, making you feel worse.
- Think about laying face down on a massage table. Nasal congestion is common in this position when well (once again due to increased circulation) but imagine the discomfort with a runny, snotty or blocked nose.
Once you are over the contagious phase (about 4 days after you first became sick, but this can vary) and are feeling a little better, massage may be useful to enhance your recovery especially if combined with aromatherapy.
- If you experienced generalised aches, coughing and/or sneezing your muscles will be grateful for a massage to release tension.
- Specific treatments can be utilised depending on your symptoms, e.g. chest and rib area to help relieve chest congestion; facial sinuses to relieve nasal congestion.
- Essential oils can be used to help boost immunity and hasten recovery, relieve congestion, reduce muscular tension and improve mental state (we often feel sorry for ourselves when we are sick and missing out on life, especially if the bug has done the rounds of the whole family!).
So if you’re in the early stages of a cold the bottom line is: stay home and look after yourself by resting, drinking lots of fluids, taking Vitamin C, eating spicy soups, having aromatic baths. Then when you’re feeling better, enjoy a personalised treatment to enhance your recovery. If you’re ever unsure if it’s appropriate to have a massage, contact your therapist so they can advise you.
Sonya is available Mondays, Tuesday and Saturdays at Growing Bones. BOOK ONLINE