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Why Do We Ask For So Much Health Information?

Colleen O'Connor Jun 19, 2014

Getting a massage can make you feel better both physically and emotionally. But a good massage is about more than rubbing a muscle here and there. An effective massage therapy session is about having an open dialogue between you and your therapist so that you can work together to get the results you want and need during your session.

The first step to establishing a foundation of communication and trust with your therapist begins with completely filling out the health intake form before you even enter into a session room.

Ensures a Healthy Massage Experience

As you rush through your day from one appointment to the next and you finally get a chance to schedule a massage into your hectic schedule, the last thing you probably want to do before relaxing on a massage table is disclose all of your medical and health history. However, DeAnna Rumsey, massage therapist at Elements Centennial, says that letting your therapist know about your medical history is integral to making sure that your massage will help, not hurt, your mind and body's health and wellness.

"We really don't ask for too much information from our clients," explains Rumsey. "At a minimum, we ask about past conditions, where does it hurt and things like that so we can uncover any basic glaring contraindications that the clients may not know about in terms of massage.

"I've had people who don't think it's important to tell me that they're on major pain medication or that they're actively going through chemotherapy," continues Rumsey. "I need to know this type of information, especially when pain medications are in the picture. Massage is such a circulatory process that it can completely mess up somebody's pain management if we don't have a conversation about it first."

Reveals Personalities and Healing Approach

Another big part of filling out the initial intake form is that it gives your therapist a sense of the type of person you are, depending on the amount of information and detail you provide. Before you get on the table, your answers on the intake form help you become known, acknowledged and appreciated by your therapist, says Rumsey.

Whether you're an extreme athlete, weekend warrior, stressed-out mom with five kids or an overwhelmed college student, where you're at in your life and the physical or mental conditions you're facing all play into the approach your therapist will take during your session, from type of touch to communication and recommendations.

"It's a starting point in terms of building awareness of who the client is and how you're going to proceed with the session," says Rumsey. "It's important to acknowledge how your clients use their bodies and what story they want to tell. We all have a story we want to tell and people want to share that narrative with their massage therapist.

"When I do bodywork of any kind it's a dialogue and it's a dance. It's me communicating with my clients and my clients communicating back not only with their experiences on the table, but what they're experiencing with their bodies in general."

Provides a Baseline for Living a Happy and Healthy Lifestyle

The massage intake form is not the end-all, be-all of communicating with your therapist. It's only the beginning of that relationship; but it's an important first step.

People shouldn't feel apprehensive or embarrassed about filling out the pre-massage paperwork completely, Rumsey says. As a therapist with an Eastern background, Rumsey focuses on healing the total body and making connections between what pain or discomfort her clients feel and identifying the underlying source of the pain. Besides the customary questions, she also asks her clients about their sleeping habits, bowel movements and eating habits. All of these pieces help to give Rumsey a better indication as to what's going on in her clients' lives and their health condition.

Once we get you into the room, then the conversation really begins. A good massage therapist is invested in getting to know the entirety of their client and not just what hurts in the moment, but who they are and how they can help them move forward to whatever goal they want to accomplish, shares Rumsey. It's not just about palpation once your clients get on the table, but how they're moving through space.

"We can get you to a point where your life and your experience within the world can be vastly different and bodywork is fabulous for that."

The more comprehensive and detailed your health intake form, the less time your therapist will have to spend questioning you about your conditions and lifestyle habits before your session. This will leave more time for your therapist to spend focusing on relieving your stress and tension during your massage therapy session, while relaxing your mind and body.

Total body health, wellness and awareness isn't just about getting regular massages. It includes integrating massage therapy and bodywork into helping you meet your life's goals. Be up front about your past and current health history with your therapist so you can establish a strong foundation for a future of health, happiness and wellness.

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