For many, the idea of massage as healthcare is still a foreign concept, so often it is not understood why massage therapists require all clients to fill out a health/intake form. However, this is a very important part on how we assess your needs for the session.
While these forms provide us with obvious contact information so we can get in touch if needed, more importantly, they give an overview of your health history and current conditions that may need to be taken into consideration. A general relaxation massage poses no danger to most people, but certain health problems may make even the most gentle massage contraindicated (not advised) or you may be referred to another massage therapist who specializes in certain techniques, or another healthcare professional entirely. For instance, someone with a history of, or a current blood clot may be turned away for his/her own safety. However, someone with significant lymphedema can often be referred to specialist who provides manual lymphatic drainage.
Medications are also an important factor to disclose because some medications can have certain side effects the therapist needs to know about. If you’re on a medication that lowers your blood pressure, you may need a little extra time or even help getting up off the table at the end of your session, as massage can lower your blood pressure even more. If bruising is a side effect of your medication, your therapist will want to be sure to warn you that if you’re seeking deep pressure, you should expect to see some light bruises after your massage, or deep pressure may be ill-advised completely (depending on several other factors).
In addition to your health history, an intake form also provides the therapist with a sense of what your goals are for your massage sessions. If you have certain pain complaints or injuries that need to be addressed, this is where you would list the details for that. This helps us, therapists, begin to develop a plan of care for you. We also keep notes on all clients to track progress and changes from one session to the next, altering the plan of care when needed.
While it can take some time to fill out the paperwork necessary to get a massage, remember, this isn’t just a massage, it’s healthcare. Those few minutes it takes to complete the paperwork, can mean the difference between a mediocre or even dangerous session, and an amazing massage!