In his Epidemics, Hippocrates advises physicians, “Do good or do no harm.” Over time, this advice has been distilled into the saying “First, do no harm,” which is commonly quoted as part of the Hippocratic oath, which physicians take when they become doctors of medicine. Doing no harm is a long-standing guiding principle of medicine and all health care professions. This chapter aims to give you the knowledge you need to “do no harm” when you provide massage to clients.
Topic 5-1 describes the areas of the body where structures like nerves and blood vessels are superficial and could be affected by your massage strokes. You want to work with caution in these areas.
Topic 5-2 explains that massage might influence a client’s response to medication and a client’s medication might influence the client’s response to massage. Understanding these issues is important for providing a safe massage.
Topic 5-3 reminds us that some effects, while beneficial for particular client groups, can be dangerous for others.
Massage therapists must be vigilant and flexible in order to “do no harm” and think critically about each client’s unique health history, medications, and physical condition, to adapt techniques to ensure the client’s safety and enjoyment. The important concepts and principles in this chapter guide our thinking and are essential in a professional and effective practice.
area of caution
Having read the chapter and used the related student learning tools, the student will be able to:
- Indicate on a diagram of the human body where areas of superficial anatomy are unprotected and constitute an area of caution.
- List the types of structures that might be superficial in areas of caution.
- List three arteries, three bones, and three organs that are superficial and require caution.
- Describe the borders of the anterior, posterior, and femoral triangles.
- Describe massage adaptations that should be made for a client who is taking prescription non-narcotic analgesics.
- Define the term contraindication and list the different types of contraindications.
- List four conditions that are absolute contraindications for massage.
- Compare and contrast a side effect with an adverse reaction.
- Define hypertension and describe when a physician’s release is required to provide massage to a client with hypertension.
- Categorize integumentary conditions that are contraindicated or that require adaptive measures.
- Outline the critical thinking steps a therapist can use to rule out contraindications and ensure massage is safe for a client.