COVID-19 has been stressful to say the least. We are not experiencing life the way that we did before, and that much change takes a toll. There are so many mixed emotions regarding what is going on, and for many people there is an underlying fear or tension regarding the thought of getting sick themselves, or seeing someone they love suffer. We are also not interacting with others in the same way, and many people are finding that they are craving interactions they never realized they would miss. As a species, we need positive touch, some more than others, but even the most introverted among us needs some interaction. This has led to a bit of a conundrum for many people. Massage can be more beneficial now than ever before for a lot of people, but how does one go about seeking out massage in an age of social distancing?
This question has led to an increasing number of people requesting in home massage. I can understand this line of thinking. You feel safe in your home, and you figure that if you aren't sick, this is the safest place you can be, so it makes sense that you would try to bring things to you when needed. I would actually argue that it is much less safe for me to come to your home to administer a massage than it would be for you to come to my office. Let me explain. First of all, it is important to remember, that if I am willing to come to your home, I am willing to go to other homes, and will likely book as many massages for the day as I am able to get to. Similarly, I have my booking completely open and will take as many clients as will fit in my schedule for a day in my office. So, let's break this down into two scenarios.
You have requested an in-home massage. You are my second client of the day, and I have just come from someone else's home. I bring my table into your space and begin setting up. I remove the table from its case and store the case off to the side. I clean and sanitize the table before putting fresh linens on the table, and set out bottles, a music player, and a clock to use for your session. While you are getting ready, I excuse myself to wash my hands thoroughly (always up to the elbows) in your bathroom or kitchen. When you are ready and on the table, I come in to perform the massage. We are both wearing masks the entire time. After your massage, I allow you to get redressed while I thoroughly wash my hands again. When you are ready, I fold up all the sheets and store them in a separate bag, and then I clean and sanitize the table and all of the other items I have used before packing them away in the carrying case. We take care of payment and I leave to go to my next massage. A week later, I find out that my first client that day, the person I saw before you, has tested positive for COVID-19 even though they weren't experiencing any signs or symptoms when I saw them. Although we were wearing masks and I have sanitized the table before and after the service, I was still in their space for an extended period of time. A space where they are not likely wearing a mask at all times, so although they put the mask on before I arrived, I was still in the air that they had been breathing for days. Items like the soft cover for my massage table, and any other bags I carry cannot be easily sanitized between clients, and they have been brought into your space to be stored during the session.
You have booked an in office massage with me. You are my second client of the day. At the beginning of the day and after the last client, I sanitized every surface that anyone has come into contact with using an EPA rated hospital grade disinfectant. I have removed all soft surfaces from public areas of the office so that every surface can be cleaned appropriately. (Check out the video below to see my cleaning routine in detail!) I have been wearing a mask the entire time I have been in the office, only removing it to eat or drink. All of my clients have been using face coverings the entire time they have been in the office, with the exception of drinking water after the session and very briefly when moving in and out of the face cradle which has a pillow case in it to create a fabric barrier while still allowing clients to breathe when face down. After you leave I will clean everything again before my next client arrives, and I will do so again at the end of the day. I have put fresh linens on the table, and sanitized all of the bottles that have been used. Before and after your session, I thoroughly wash my hands up to the elbows as I have done for my entire career. A week later, I find out that my first client that day has tested positive for COVID-19 even though they weren't experiencing any signs or symptoms when I saw them.
Which scenario seems safest to you? In the first scenario, not only was I in someone else's space where they had been breathing the air unmasked before I arrived, but I have had to bring items into both of your homes that cannot be easily sanitized. In the second scenario, no one has been in the space without an appropriate face covering, and you and your belongings do not come into contact with anything in the office that anyone else has handled without being sanitized first. If you rode up in the elevator or used the restroom in the hall, you will becoming into contact with spaces that I do not have control over, but as long as you are wearing an appropriate face covering and washing your hands thoroughly, you should minimize your risk. You are also free to use the hand sanitizer in my office, the bottle for which gets sanitized after it is used. While there is still a risk with either scenario, the risk has been increased more than I am comfortable with when going into other people's spaces. Even if we are outside, there is still an increased risk, not to mention the fact that few people actually have a space that would be easily used for an outdoor massage without worrying about sun exposure, privacy, places for me to put things, etc.
I understand why someone might feel safer having people meet them in their own home, but in analyzing the risk to both myself and my clients, I have found that it is actually much riskier to work that way than it is for people to come into my space. If you are not ready to venture out yet, that is completely understandable, and I hope that we can be in a place soon where your fears can be put to rest. It is important that no one put themselves into a situation that makes them feel unsafe. If you are in pain or discomfort in the meantime, why not try one of our virtual massage sessions? It may not be quite the same as receiving work in person, but you will still feel better than you did before. If you feel like your concerns have been addressed and would like to come in for a massage in the office, I would love to see you and you can book online now!
Stay safe everyone!
Meet the Author
Amanda Tarver, (LMT, CEIM, PES, RMT) is a massage therapist and birth worker in the Chicago area. She is dedicated to using a combination of bodywork and education to help people live a better quality of life.