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Most times when someone tells me that their shoulder/hip/jaw/insert-body-part-here is bothering them, I look for tenderness there. Tenderness is REALLY important to effectively finding and helping said pain for many reasons. I often realize halfway through an area why I’m not finding what I’m looking for.

“Have you taken any painkillers today?” I ask.


When you have a headache, you might take a few Advil (or Tylenol, Motrin, etc) to get rid of the pain. It might take about a half an hour to work, but sure enough, the headache is gone (or lessened). Some people even take it as a precaution – in case they get a headache. So what does that have to do with massage? You’re in less pain so that’s good, right? It’s not like I’ll be massaging inside your head, so… why does it matter if you take painkillers before a massage? The problem is that a pill that goes into your stomach to relieve a headache travels a long way to do so, and on the way, it complicates massage.

Analgesics travel through the blood system, dulling the entire pain system.


If you take a pill orally, the next stop is the stomach. Once the outer shell is digested, the drug enters the bloodstream. From there. the drug travels through the entire body, head to toe, and blocks either pain receptors or other pain chemicals in every area it touches. This goes for creams, too. Even if you only apply it to your forehead, it will absorb into the bloodstream and spread all around.


Why does this matter?

I need you to feel pain accurately.


This is not just me being a sadist (though some of my clients might disagree). Every person is different and feels pressure differently. My medium level pressure might feel like the deepest massage ever to one person, and the brush of a feather to another. I adjust based on your feedback. If you took a bunch of aspirin, that feather is going to leave you with bruises.

I will keep going until you feel something, unless I know you are under the influence of something.

“What if I already took something?”


Let’s say you took something and have a massage scheduled tonight. Don’t panic. Just tell me before the session and I can adjust my technique to make it safer. It will involve not as much pressure, and trigger point therapy is out of the question. So if you are planning on getting intense, therapeutic work, it’s best to reschedule. I won’t be able to effectively do much except relax you and make the session enjoyable. Deep tissue and rehab work are out.

What about “____” medication?


If you are curious about whether your other medications affect massage, either call me at 240-476-0470 or consult your doctor. I may not know about the specific medication (I’m not a Dr, nurse, or physical therapist btw), but I can look it up and we can discuss options.

Let’s review:

1)  Don’t take pain-dulling medication before your session

2) If you have to, tell me and understand the limitations of the session

3) If you need more intensive work, reschedule ASAP

Or you could just keep it to yourself if you like bruises. Up to you 🙂