It’s a bad idea to let any unqualified person massage any part of you, even if it feels pretty good for a minute.
Why? Besides the implications of personal touching at work being frowned upon—or just completely inappropriate and unwelcome—there are serious risks to your health that come with having someone unqualified give you a massage.
Unskilled massage from masseuse can be too hard
A massage manipulates muscles and soft tissue. When someone who isn’t trained in massage gives you one anyway, you risk injury. It’s very easy – particularly when it’s someone standing behind you while you’re sitting in a chair – to use incorrect and excessive pressure. Even the well-meaning amateur can hurt you.
They don’t know where to touch you
By allowing people who don’t know what they’re doing to massage your neck, back, or shoulders—or anywhere, really, but these areas in particular—you run the risk that they could worsen any tightness, sore spots, or tension you already have, or pinch nerves and bruise your body.
You have specific conditions that a massage might harm
Massages can unleash a lot of reactions in your body. Done right, these can bring about healing and relief. Done wrong, the reactions can cause serious harm.
When you get a professional massage, Licensed Massage Therapists (LMTs) take the time to ask about your overall health and specific conditions, so that they know how to massage you (or if they even should). Sometimes the LMT may want an “OK” from your doctor or want you to wait until you’re in a different condition before you get a massage.
A co-worker is not going to know how to approach specific health concerns and might do real damage – even with a brief neck massage.
Conditions that warrant caution – even with a professional massage – include the following:
- Pregnancy: An LMT should have prenatal massage experience, and even then, most LMTs prefer not to give massages during the first trimester of pregnancy. Letting a co-worker massage you during any stage of gestation is never a good idea.
- Cancer: An LMT should have particular oncology massage experience, and will need to know your cancer type, location, and treatments – including any chemo, radiation, or surgery you’ve had. Somebody without a license could hurt you by giving even a simple neck massage.
- Chronic illness: High blood pressure, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and other conditions can be either helped or hurt by a massage, so it’s important that the person massaging you is an LMT – not an unqualified co-worker.
- Acute illness: If you have a cold, the flu, or an infection, your LMT will probably tell you to hold off on the massage until you’ve recovered. Receiving a massage from a coworker while your body is trying to heal could make you a lot sicker.
Forget the Co-Workers and Find a Qualified LMT
Giving a massage correctly requires a lot of training and knowledge. As a result, each state has its licensing requirements that practitioners must meet to be certified in any massage therapy.
Typically, candidates in all states must attend a qualified school, complete a minimum number of hours of study, and pass a written and practical test given by the state board. You can find out the requirements for your state by contacting your licensing board, but as an example, the following are the minimum training requirements in Texas:
- 200 hours of study in techniques and theory
- 125 hours studying Swedish massage
- 40 hours of pathology
- 20 hours of hydrotherapy
- 50 hours of physiology
- 50 hours of kinesiology
- 50 hours of anatomy
- 45 hours studying massage therapy laws, rules, business practices, and ethics
- 20 hours of health, hygiene, first aid, universal precautions and CPR
- 50 hours in an approved internship
- 12 hours of continuing education every year
In addition to these minimums, more hours are required if a therapist wants to practice any other type of massage or bodywork—like deep tissue massage or craniosacral therapy, for example.
Still think a random co-worker should be giving you a neck massage?
If you aren’t sure that the person you’ve chosen to conduct your massage is capable of providing you with great service, ask the following questions:
- Can I see your license? (The answer should always be “Yes” and it should be displayed somewhere in the office at all times.)
- What kind of malpractice insurance do you have?
- What modalities are you licensed in?
- How long have you been licensed?
- What kind of experience do you have in each type of massage and bodywork you offer?
- Do you have a specialty?
Asking these questions should allow you to weed out people who are unqualified (since, by now, you should have already filtered out your coworkers as potential massage therapists). If an LMT seems hesitant or reluctant to answer any of these questions, take a pass and find a different therapist – your health is too valuable to put at risk from practitioners without the appropriate training and licensing.
Keep It Professional
Be smart about your massages and your health—skip the co-worker neck massages and find a great licensed massage therapist through the Candle Spas program instead!