Coronavirus and Massage Therapy

Coronavirus & Massage Therapy


Massage therapy as it’s typically practiced in the community is not currently safe due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So my practice is temporarily closed.

Most people get their massage either from a spa with multiple massage therapists and other practitioners or a single therapist in private practice. Both settings provide ample opportunities for the spread of this virus between clients and therapists.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can be transmitted by people who are actively sick, pre-symptomatic (will eventually become ill but aren’t yet) and asymptomatic (carrying the virus but will not become sick). About 80% of people will have a mild illness; some won’t know they’re infected. The incubation period is long, ranging from 2 to 14 days. Because it’s new, none of us have immunity.

For these reasons, there is no assurance that bodywork clients won’t be exposed to the virus by receiving massage. No matter how well hands and arms (and feet for ashiatsu) are washed, no matter how well surfaces in the massage area are disinfected, no matter the many good sanitary practices for cleaning linens and glassware, coronavirus is also transmitted in the air for at least 30 minutes. Massage therapists work very closely with people for an hour, 90 minutes, sometimes longer. There are simply too many opportunities for airborne and surface transmission. Potential hot spots include small treatment rooms, bathrooms and waiting areas or lounges.

The precautions a massage therapist would take in a hospital, such as wearing a mask, gloves and gown, are out of reach because these items are in short supply. They should be reserved for health care workers dealing with the sick and infected until there is a surplus. Also, people are often put off or disturbed by protective garb, and it’s too cumbersome for some kinds of therapy.

Flattening the Curve

For the public health, it’s imperative that we take the actions within our control NOW so the 15-20% of people who will develop more serious illness don’t get sick all at once and overwhelm our healthcare system’s capacity to care for them.

Temporarily closing our spas and practices protects clients, therapists, loved ones, our community and our country. Cases are confirmed in all states but one. Community transmission must be assumed. As of March 15, 2020, we still are not able to test enough people fast enough to see the actual local extent of COVID-19. What we do know is that this virus, unchecked, spreads exponentially in everyday life. Therapies for the sickest people will have to be rationed if there are too many critically ill at the same time. Sadly, this is already happening in Italy and Iran.

The United Kingdom’s Dr. John Campbell has been offering a monumental public service through his YouTube commentary. What he has to say isn’t easy to hear, but it’s rooted in experience and not tempered by conflicting interests. Like me, he advocates proactivity.

When new infections drop locally it will be safe and reasonable to resume massage therapy sessions. Ask spa management or your therapist what he or she is doing to prevent the spread of coronavirus. And please answer any questions asked when reserving your appointment. Lives are literally on the line.

The economic impact of this pandemic will also be borne heavily by massage therapists, many of whom are self-employed or independent contractors without any kind of sick pay. Please treat yourself and your therapist generously when the benefits of massage once again outweigh the risk posed by coronavirus.

In tough times it’s crucial to create moments outside the difficulty and allow ourselves to be replenished. Music works wonders.

Kaiona, a sweet Hawaiian song by Keali’i Reichel to light the path of uncertainty:

Maunaleo unplugged by Keali’i Reichel and friends:

Meanwhile, take good care and thank you for following the recommended safety precautions. Let’s bump elbows and do massage someday soon!

healing-loss-small-cover-outlined-e1495905246179.jpgPeace and Love,

Mira Carroll aka Carol

Healing Loss Book

Healing Loss eBook

Get $20 off your first purchase at Vital Plan

© 2020 by Carol A. Niemi, LMT, CHt

Please feel free to share in entirety

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Subscribe to New Posts
%d bloggers like this: