Driving Under the Influence of Physical Therapy

| Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 | 3 Comments »

People assume alcohol and illegal drugs are the main enemies of driving a car.  The truth is anything that impairs your ability to drive safely and responsibly is dangerous and unfair to yourself, your family and society at large.

I was thinking about this the other day when talking with a friend who also has a chronic illness.  We have both had intense massages and left the therapists office feeling a bit “out of sorts”.  Mentally goofy perhaps.

I have had physical therapy sessions were after working out, having a gentle massage and then 20 or so minutes of deep rest with a heating pad and a tens unit on my back, I have been asked to schedule my next session and then sent on my way.  Again… I recall sitting in the car and feeling deeply rested but was I also off my game and unsafe to drive home?

In the past I have taken prescription medication that came with the warning about operating a vehicle and consuming alcohol together.  While I do not drink, what about the effects of physical activity that deeply relaxes my body and mental state of mind?  How about warm water therapy or sauna use?

Having a chronic illness brings on so many unexpected challenges.  Many of us want to find alternate treatments that are “healthier” than some medications.  How do we incorporate these treatments into our lives without causing new risks and concerns.

These are tough questions.  I personally dislike to have to ask for help to do basic things like drive myself to an appointment.  But when does not asking for help become  dangerous to myself and others?  How would I feel if I hurt someone while driving a car simply because I was uncomfortable to ask for a ride home after a deep tissue massage?

How relaxed it too relaxed? 

When are YOU driving under the influence of physical therapy?

Possible solutions:

  1. Ask a friend with a chronic illness to drive you – taking turns for each others appointments.
  2. Find a therapist or medical practitioner located by a bus stop or close enough to take a cab.
  3. Take 15 or 20 minutes to rest in the office or in your car before driving.  Bring a book, water and a snack.
  4. Learn what transport services are available in your area for people with disabilities.

Best Solution:

  1. Find a practitioner who can come to your home!

Please share your thoughts and additional solutions.  Even an experience of when something like this happened to you.  Educating ourselves and others isn’t about shame or blame it is about being a great patient, friend and member of society.

Learning to ask for help will be covered soon!

If you know someone living with a chronic illness, please share this article with them.  You can click on share button below and email it there way!


  1. Jen says:

    Trust me, having worked in a day spa for almost ten years, there have been many clients that I’ve worried about sending out on the road. Deep tissue massag can unlock toxins in your muscles which then course through the blood stream and lymphatic system, often times resulting in dizziness and even nausea. Combine that with a soak in the whirlpool spa and a hit-all-your-pressure points facial and one is left pretty out of sorts! We always stress lots of water to flush the system and taking it very easy. Some clients even choose to sit and sip a cool beverage before driving. Personally, I tend to have my treatment few and far between, usually when my back is a mess! Because I can count on feeling lethargic and sometimes woozsy I like to arrange for transportation or schedule with an MT that does in-home treatments.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for the professional tips Jen! It’s important to remember that you don’t have to have a chronic illness to be affected by physical therapy enough to ensure safe travel home! You nailed some great points.

  3. Chantal says:

    My advice? Drink tons of water before massage or therapy. Take my time on the table when done. If loopy, write in my journal in my car till I feel okay. Stop at a store and walk around for a bit. Drink tons more water after. Breath. Go to the bathroom.

    I once wrote in my journal and on myspace about driving under the influence of fibro flare!

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