The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, while the flu bug can strike any time of the year, this particular virus rears its ugly head most often in December, January and February.
This means we’re about ready to be thrust right in the middle of prime flu season.
Are you and your massage therapy practice prepared?
If your answer is no or that you’re not quite sure, there are several things you can do reduce your odds of catching this year’s latest strain of bug—or passing it along to your clients. This starts with first looking after your own personal health.
Personal Flu Season Preparations
One of the best things you can do to keep from getting the flu is to practice preventive health care, which is what integrative medicine specialist Kimberly Petree, OMP, FNMT, HHP, does.
A massage therapist for 20 years, Petree says she prepares herself and her family for flu season by eliminating all sugar before flu season even starts.
This also means cutting out fruit juices, which tend to be higher in sugar, and drinking only water or homemade green vegetable juice.
Research has shown time and time again that sugar has many negative physical effects; with Medical Daily sharing that consuming too much of this sweet substance raises your risk of heart attack or stroke, even increasing your susceptibility of experiencing heart failure. It can also damage your kidneys and joints.
When talking about colds and flus specifically, research about the damaging effects of sugar goes all the way back to a 1973 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
This particular study found that consuming sugar can negatively affect your body’s ability to fight disease for as long as five hours after ingesting it. Because the CDC reports that the average person’s diet is typically somewhere around 13 percent sugar, your immunity can essentially become inhibited all day long.
In addition to limiting sugar intake, Petree says that she also increases the efficacy of her immune system response by taking a variety of supplements. “We take pre- and probiotics, hemp CBD oil, and lyposomal,” says Petree, adding that her supplemental regimen also includes vitamin C and essential oils such as hyssop, which “is the best known anti-viral oil.”
It is best to check with your physician before taking any new supplements.
Another personal flu preparation that helps Petree stay healthier during flu season is “keeping active and making sure you’re getting proper circulation” as this enables all of her other preparations to get to where it needs to and do the job.
Taking a walk and receiving your own regular massages can help create this type of response.
Flu Prevention Office Preparations
There are also things you can at your practice to help keep both you and your clients as flu-free as possible.
“As a therapist, you can incorporate essential oils in your therapy sessions to stimulate the immune system, to work as an antiviral, and to cleanse the air,” says Petree, adding, “I also use homeopathic remedies internally and in the air for this purpose.”
Lemon is a good choice of essential oil, as Medical News Today reports that this sour fruit “may help strengthen the immune system against the germs that cause cold and flu.” And even if you do get sick, it has also been found to reduce the duration of the illness.
Eucalyptus is another essential oil to consider, largely due to its antimicrobial properties and the stimulation it provides to the immune system. However, like lemon, even if you do wind up getting sick, it can oftentimes provide relief as it tends to act as both a decongestant and expectorant.
Sarah Weinstock, a massage therapist at Lateral Fitness in Chicago, Illinois, says that, for her, practicing safe techniques all year long is key.
“These things include washing my hands after each client, after using the restroom, [and] before and after I eat,” says Weinstock. “[I will] “use my shirt sleeve or a tissue if I find I have an itch on my face.”
By taking actions such as these, if any germs are introduced into the environment, at least they’re not being passed around. This is especially important as the Minnesota Department of Health shares that the five most common ways germs are spread are:
- From your nose or mouth to your hands via sneezing or coughing, or from your eyes when you rub them, and then touching someone else;
- From unclean hands to the foods you consume;
- From touching raw meat and then touching other foods or other kitchen utensils without washing your hands first;
- From a child carrying germs and them passing them on to other children; and
- From animals to people.
The more you can limit transmission of germs via these methods, the healthier you and your clients will likely be.
Weinstock says that she takes other safety precautions at her practice as well. For instance, she shares that she takes the time to sanitize her room after her shift by wiping door handles, light switches, bottles and her phone.
Although this may seem like an inconvenience, research has found that viruses can spread at an alarming rate. For instance, in one study presented at the 54th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, researchers revealed that within two to four hours of a virus being located on just one doorknob or tabletop, it could be found “on 40 to 60 percent of workers and visitors in the facilities and commonly touched objects.”
If germs can spread this quickly in that short amount of time, just imagine how quickly they can make their way through your entire practice if you’re not regularly wiping things down.
Phones are just as bad as doorknobs. In fact, one microbiologist from the University of Arizona says that they can be particularly germy—even more so than a toilet seat—because “we’re in constant contact with them, and they spend a lot of time in close proximity to our faces and mouths.”
Plus, they’re rarely ever cleaned.
It Takes a Two-Pronged Approach
In the end, the best way to prepare your massage practice for protection against the flu is to first protect yourself. The next step is to extend those protections to the people and the items within your practice to ensure that, if and when germs are introduced, they’re at least not spread around.
When you take this type of two-pronged approach, your chances of making it through flu season without infecting yourself or your clients are greatly increased.
About the Author
Christina DeBusk is a freelance writer dedicated to providing readers relevant, research-backed content related to health and wellness, personal development, safety, and small business ownership.
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