“Massage therapists are expanding their online offerings — teaching clients self-massage and stretches, meditations, etc., utilizing distance healing over the phone or Zoom and other platforms,” she said. Some are “finding other jobs, going back to school, closing their businesses.”
She also hears from many who miss the hands-on benefits of massage. “Clients have realized how much they relied on massage therapy, not as a luxury ‘beauty’ service, but for pain relief, symptom management and mental health,” Ms. Gauthier said.
Karen Ciancetta, a licensed massage therapist in Schenectady N.Y., who has been in practice for more than two decades, recently began seeing clients again. “Many people contacted me over these months asking that I call them first when I start working again,” she said. “I have another contingent, several very regular clients, telling me they won’t be coming back for at least a year.”
“While it feels great to be back at the work I truly love, I am planning to go slowly,” Ms. Ciancetta said. She has spent the past several months keeping up with frequently changing Covid-related restrictions for reopening, including requirements from New York State and guidelines from the American Massage Therapy Association.
For current compliance, clients are asked to come only five minutes ahead of their appointment and leave immediately after to minimize wait room lingering in close quarters. Both she and her clients must wear masks throughout the session. She must do daily temperature checks and fill out symptom checklist questionnaires. She is also required to be tested for coronavirus every two weeks.
“Much is the same, at least for the client. And that is what I am working hard to achieve,” she said. She is looking into televisits and phone consults for the clients she knows well who don’t feel comfortable meeting in person.
“With someone whose body I have worked enough to really understand what they describe to me, I am comfortable without the additional information I get from my hands,” she said. “I could easily demonstrate a self-massage technique,” for example, placing two tennis balls in a sock and strategically rolling or lying on them to relieve back pain.