Body Sense

SPRING | 2021

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 5 of 16

Now that COVID vaccine distribution is underway, we have a question to ponder: When is it appropriate for clients who are going through this process to receive massage therapy? MY ANSWER My recommendation is to wait at least two days after an injection, just in case you have a negative reaction. Most people will have some local arm pain and swelling, but others will have more severe, flu-like symptoms. For the latter, delay massage until you are back to full speed. MY RATIONALE The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently being administered in the US are mRNA vaccines. This is a new technology that induces an immune system response to SARS-CoV-2 without exposure to the virus. In other words, this vaccine cannot possibly cause even a low-grade form of COVID-19, but it equips the immune system to launch a powerful response to fight off an infection. (A terrific explanation of how the mRNA strategy works can be found here—it will be the best 3 minutes you can spend to understand this process.) I've Just Been Vaccinated. Can I Schedule a Massage? By Ruth Werner The mRNA vaccine strategy appears to be safe and effective—that's the good news. It also appears to initiate robust T-cell activity, which leads to longer- lasting protection than B-cells alone—also good news. However, these vaccines have a higher rate of side effects than we see with some other vaccines: they are reactogenic (likely to create reactions). This is good; it shows the body is creating a healthy and aggressive stance. But it is also uncomfortable. Specifically, side effects include pain and swelling at the injection site (this happens for most patients), along with systemic symptoms like fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, nausea, vomiting, and fever. Follow-up surveys about systemic post-vaccine reactions suggest they are more common in younger patients than in older ones, and they are often more severe after a second dose than after the first dose. If these reactions happen at all, they develop within 48 hours of the injection, and most people find they resolve after a day of discomfort. Ruth Werner is a former massage therapist, a writer, and an NCBTMB- approved provider of continuing education. She wrote A Massage Therapist's Guide to Pathology (available at now in its seventh edition, which is used in massage schools worldwide.—your resource for all things bodywork 5

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Body Sense - SPRING | 2021