Returning to Massage During A Pandemic

I have returned to my massage practice after 11 weeks of sheltering at home and must say it has been a bit strange and disorienting. This is mostly due to the personal protective gear and all the disinfecting procedures that we are following. We had to completely re outfit our office space so it can be disinfected easily. One of the other challenges I came across was that I had a headache and exhaustion at the end of the day that first week and it dawned on me to check my oxygen levels with my fitness app. They were a little low so I assumed that perhaps the N95 masks I had might be counter fit. They did seem thicker than the other one I was given by my office mate. I was also wondering if it could be the thyme oil disinfectant but once I used the other mask the headaches seemed to abate. The face shield also lends a strange sense of distance to the whole session that can be very Alice in Wonderland feeling. But I am sure I will acclimate as time goes on. The good news is that my clients left feeling better than when they came in so that disorientation must not be translating into my work.

The other uncertainty is about how to screen people who may have had or have had Covid – 19. We have been hearing about how it attacks the epithelial tissue of the blood vessels and organs and causes blood clots after you seem to be better. So how do we screen people who have had the virus for that? When is it safe for them to come in for a massage? We are getting some guidance from our professional organizations on that now but we will proceed with care.

I have only been seeing 2 people per day compared to my 4 per day because we are needing to have a healthy social distance, time for disinfecting, and my stamina is less with the PPE. This means I have to start all my sessions at the top of the hour and it does take a full 1/2 hour to disinfect and set the room up between clients. This then created the need to raise my rates since I cannot do as many massages in the same amount of time with all of the protocol in place. I hope to get to 3 people per day once my tolerance for the PPE increases. One of the problems with the face mask and shield is overheating and dehydration. I have an increased respect for our front line grocery and health care workers who have been doing 8, 10, 12 hour or more shifts in this gear. I don’t think I could do it.

I am glad to be back to work and have enjoyed seeing my clients again and I hope we are able to continue forward and get a little comfortable with some sense of the new normal before it rapidly changes again. Though change…… is the only constant.

Published by Lee Feetham, LMT, BS

Licensed massage therapist, body geek, health enthusiast, and mini homesteader.

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