Things to Watch Out For and Avoid During Your Massage Therapy Career

Safety is a major concern when it comes to the massage therapy profession. It is an important factor not only for the clients but also for the therapists. There are certain limits that you, as a massage therapist, are not allowed to cross. On the other hand, there are instances where you have to protect yourself from a potentially dangerous situation created by the client.

There is little doubt that a massage is one of the best ways to relieve tension and stress from the body. This is why you see many people opting for regular massages over other ways to de-stress, like exercising for example. You would hardly hear anyone complaining about having received a massage.

And why is that? The person receiving the massage is able to relax and let all his/her worries fly away. Relieving stress is crucial for achieving optimum health and well being. However you must remember that just because you can help improve a client’s health doesn’t mean you can cure and treat all their health problems.

This is something a few massage therapists have been guilty of thinking, and a thing you have to avoid. You will be taught about these safety concerns in massage school. At the end of the day, the purpose of massage therapy is to help clients relax and relieve their pain. Based on your specialization, you may be allowed to render treatments for pain and other health issues. However, that doesn’t mean you are a qualified doctor.

So, even if a client compliments you, saying that you helped improve how they feel, it doesn’t mean they are asking you to become a de facto doctor and start monitoring their health and wellness. It is your duty as a massage therapist to you stay within your limits and never ever consider yourself, or present yourself, as a medical practitioner.

This way, you will be fair to your clients as well as to yourself. You don’t want to be losing clients just because you have their best interests at heart. But, without appropriate qualifications, your intentions can be improper.

This is why there are some things you have to be extremely careful about. For instance, some clients aren’t open about revealing their medical problems to massage therapists. It is therefore quite possible that you might accidentally put pressure on an injured area. You have to ask your clients about whether they have had any accidents in the recent past and whether they are on medication.

You might have to turn down a few clients because they require medical help more than massage therapy. Again, this is one of your duties as a massage therapist. You should encourage people who need treatment to see a doctor instead of visiting you to get a massage.

Saying No to Certain Clients

As mentioned above, there are some clients who are more in need of a doctor than a massage therapist. Let’s look at a few examples of such clients:

  • Pregnant women who are in the first trimester. Additionally, you have to be careful about using aromatherapy on women who have recently given birth. The substances used may cause problems with breastfeeding.
  • Refuse any potential clients who have drug and/or alcohol addiction.
  • People suffering from cancer or thrombosis cannot be massaged. Only if their condition improves can you take them on as clients. For clients suffering from thrombosis, giving a massage could cause more damage. For instance, a blood clot may get dislodged. Same goes for cancer patients. If the client is insistent, ask him/her to get an authorization letter from their doctor saying that they can get a massage and you wouldn’t be responsible for any issues.

These are a few types of patients you have to say NO to. There is no other option so, rather than having second thoughts about whether you should take them or not, simply refuse them. In fact, you can even add these points to your policy.

Saying No to Certain Types of Massages and Massage Areas

Apart from certain types of patients, there are some areas of the body that you should avoid massaging unless absolutely certain that it wouldn’t cause any harm. Here are a few examples of such areas:

  • Any lumps that have not been checked yet. Lumps can turn out to be cancerous.
  • Cuts, wounds and bruises, that aren’t properly covered or bandaged. You might unwittingly infect the exposed area.
  • Any parts of the body where there are broken bones and/or ligaments. Obviously, putting pressure on an area of the body with a broken bone will cause the client tremendous pain.
  • Varicose veins are a strict no-no as far as massage is concerned. You cannot apply even the slightest bit of pressure on varicose veins. Only if a client provides his/her doctor’s authorization to massage the area with varicose veins should you go ahead and do it.
  • Infected areas of the body regardless, of the nature of infection. This includes both fungal and bacterial infections, such as warts.
  • Like broken bones, any breakages that may occur in soft tissues can also cause immense pain. So, stay away from them when massaging.
  • Swollen areas on the body, regardless of whether they have been caused by an injury or are a symptom of an underlying condition.

These are some areas of the body that you should stay away from when massaging clients. If a client reveals any of the problems listed here to you before the massage, it is best to turn him/her down.

Saying No to Personal Questions

Lastly, as a massage therapist you must understand that you have certain limitations and you should know them well. It is your duty to ask the client certain questions regarding health etc.

However, other than that you must avoid asking personal or professional details as well. It is okay for you to be friendly with your client but this doesn’t mean that you should start mingling.

It may be okay for you to answer any questions which are asked but, as a massage provider, you should limit your questions and keep communication to a minimum.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to how well you have been trained in terms of safety. You have to protect yourself while keeping your clients’ safe as well. Therefore, you should pay special attention to the safety course that you take as a part of your massage education.

If you have any confusion regarding any issue related to safety, no matter how minor you think it is, ask your instructor/teacher right away. The best massage schools ensure that their students are trained in massage safety so that you shouldn’t have much problem staying on the right side of the massage therapists’ code of conduct.

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

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