It’s that time of year again. The dreaded cold and flu season is upon us. And like every year we inevitably get asked if a massage therapy treatment is appropriate during a cold or flu.

The answer is…it depends. How long have you been sick? Are your symptoms getting better or worse?

The common belief is that you are thought to be most contagious a day or two before the onset of symptoms. The fact is that while you can be contagious before having any symptoms, you’re also contagious for several days after onset, which is when your symptoms are getting worse or staying the same. You become less contagious as your symptoms subside.

Coughing, sneezing, fever, aches and pains, chills, and runny nose are all symptoms of a Cold/Flu. These symptoms, as annoying as they can be are the by-product of your body fighting off an infection. While it may not seem like a good thing to have all these symptoms, they are actually the means by which your immune system is hard at work.

Massage Therapy, while stress relieving, can actually be very taxing on your system, increasing circulation and moving around lymph fluid. When you’re sick, your body needs to expend all its energy fighting the infection. You may think it would feel nice to have a massage while you’re sick but actually, it can hinder your body’s ability to heal and could exacerbate the problem.

So, is Massage Therapy suggested? Here’s the more detailed answer…if you are in your first few days of illness, or your symptoms are either getting worse or at their worst, a massage is not for you. Once your symptoms are showing improvement for a couple of days, then it is okay to come in for a treatment.

Here are a few home remedies I use to get me through those first few days of a cold/flu, while I’m trying to avoid contact with others so I don’t spread my cold:

Studies show honey may be just as effective as a cough suppressant and remedies sold over-the-counter. Try taking 2 tbsp at bedtime. My favourite recipe when I’m sick is to put 2 tbsp of honey into hot water and add fresh lemon juice and a slice or two of fresh ginger if you have it, for a yummy bacteria fighting “tea”.

Water vapour can help soothe a cough and break up phlegm. If you have a humidifier at home, keep it on through the night while you’re sleeping. Make sure to clean it several times a week to prevent mold and bacteria growth. If you don’t have a humidifier at home, try running a hot shower or fill your bath with hot water and sit in the bathroom with the door closed. Slowly inhale the steam.

Don’t forget to drink lots of water (it can also help break up phlegm). Keep nice and warm. And get as much rest as possible.