Feeling Unwell As A Massage Therapist

What To Do When You Don't Feel Well As A Massage Therapist

What To Do When You Don’t Feel Well As A Massage Therapist

by Dr. Jane Garofano

Being a healthy massage therapist requires that the therapist be healthy physically and mentally; ie, body and mind.

As we know researchers have determined that the massage therapist has been effective in the areas of pain, stress, fibromyalgia, cancer, infant care, HIV/AIDS, headaches, autism and many other diseases, disorders and conditions. We also know that it is paramount that the massage therapist protect their career by giving their body what it needs to function and perform efficiently.

What we need is

1. nourish through healthy diet

2.hydrate with water and fluids

3. exercise regularly by warming up before giving massage, stretching, walking and weight training for muscle tone

4. rest with a regular sleep routine of 8 hours or more

5. meditate or relax the mind in some way, 6. get a regular massage for yourself!

Even if we accomplish all this, a massage therapist still may not be able to, or feel like working because of ‘illness’, injury or pain related to overwork, in back, hands or neck.

What Does A Massage Therapist Do?

So how does the massage therapist push through these obstacles, but remain a professional to be the best at what they do?

First know your body and if you are running a temperature or contagious, cold, flu or Shingles , cancel your appointments and reschedule when it is safe to breath on a client or touch them. They will appreciate your concern , and we hope that they will respect this in return by cancelling if they the client is contagious.

However, most days hopefully are pain free, but if your neck, back or hands are overworked or tired you may feel the need to cancel appointments. Keep in mind that you may be over scheduling yourself or not leaving enough time between clients.

But also, I feel that if you are developing physical pain, it’s time to evaluate yourself on many levels: where is the pain and how long has it been going on? If it is back pain, poor body mechanics, posture, or shoes may be the answer and can be corrected by you.

If the pain is in the neck and shoulder area, then you are holding stress there and tend to elevate the shoulders too much creating an impact on the neck muscles to tighten up. This also can be corrected by being aware of shoulder position during your massage routine, and bring those shoulders down from the ‘ears’!

If the pain is in the hands and wrists, then it may be carpal tunnel developing from too much extension in the wrists causing pressure on the median nerve that travels through the wrist resulting in acute and possibly chronic pain. In your self assessment as pain is related keep in mind how long you have been giving massages and perhaps it may be time to take a continuing education class on these related issues.

What About Medications?

Lastly, what about medication for reducing inflammation when pain compromises back or joints?

Well, if it is a temporary use and helps your functioning as a massage therapist, then use is indicated, however, if use is needed long term there may be a chronic issue or condition occurring, this is contraindicated which needs medical attention to avoid loss of working days .

Always check with your doctor when you don’t feel well, self medicating is not a wise solution and it may be a medical condition that needs attention.

In my experience, owning the JSG School of Massage Therapy, students are expected to attend class 100% unless they are contagious or injured, being tired or work not completed does not mean class is optional. Good habits and professionalism will prevail after graduating!


Dr. Jane Garofano, Ph.D., NCTMB

The owner, director and instructor of Anatomy and Physiology and the Theory & Practice of Massage Therapy. Dr Garofano is a nationally certified massage therapist, master lypossage, pet massage, trainer and author of the review book for the NCTMB National Massage Certification & MBLEX Exam.   JSG School of Massage Therapy