As COVID-19 restrictions ease and states begin to re-open, massage therapy providers across the country are getting back to business — and this newly re-opened industry is looking to hire and staff up again. New York City just entered Phase 3 of re-opening and the public, it seems, clearly cannot wait to return to their massage therapy regimen.
Ericka Clinton, Dean of Massage Therapy at Swedish Institute, explains why medical massage is back and in demand.
“When I contacted each of my clients with the date of July 6th as my return to work, all wanted appointments over the next two weeks. I literally got a full page email of availability from one person who wanted to ensure that I knew every moment over the next two weeks when she is available for a session. People want to get back to their massage therapy sessions and are excited and thankful that we are able to manage the risk. Lots of discussion about travel methods, timing of sessions and of course working things out for clients who are currently unemployed but who need massage. I was surprised and truly humbled by the response from my clients, and very glad that the response has been so positive for our return.”
Eric Joppy, another NYC-based Licensed Massage Therapist who graduated from Swedish Institute in 2016 and who operates a private practice titled SenseFuel Massage, has had a similar experience.
“It’s funny, I noticed people wanting massage since quarantine [first] began. They were not scared away from touch like I thought they would be. Ever since we got news that massage therapy would be a part of Phase III, clients have been in-boxing me consistently asking “Have you started taking bookings yet!?”, which deeply warms my heart because it shows that no matter what, humans NEED to be touched. And it’s proof that people, on a grand scale, are understanding the fundamental benefit of massage therapy, which in my opinion means total wellness (body, mind, and soul). Humans need humans. And humans need human touch.”
Why the demand right now?
Let’s start with the basics.
MEDICAL BENEFITS OF MASSAGE THERAPY
Whereas once associated with luxury hotels and upscale spas for pampering, massage has evolved into one of the most valued complementary therapies alongside physical therapy that people turn to assist people with their medical conditions. From pain relief and recovery from injury to increased range of motion and improved cardiovascular health, the list of benefits of therapeutic medical massage goes on and on. Instead of seeking massage solely for relaxation purposes, over the past decade Americans have quickly learned the value & efficacy of massage therapy as an integral approach to health & medical conditions.
According to the AMTA 2019 Consumer Study:
️ 🔳 78% of Americans say their primary reason for receiving a massage in the previous 12 months was medical or stress related (up from 50% in 2016).
Medical reasons included:
- Injury recovery
- Pain Relief
- Soreness/stiffness or spasms
- To control headaches or migraines
- To relieve or manage stress
- For prevention or to improve quality of life
- To keep fit/healthy & maintain overall wellness
🔳 71% believe that massage therapy should be considered a form of healthcare (only 27% believe massage is solely a form of pampering)
🔳 87% believe that massage is effective in reducing pain
🔳 86% believe massage is beneficial to overall health and wellness
HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS LEGITIMIZING MASSAGE THERAPY
A growing number of research studies are showing that the benefits are more far-reaching than previously known, and include everything from fibromyalgia and post-operative surgical pain, to tension headaches, low back & knee pain. Which is why healthcare providers and doctors are more commonly viewing massage therapy as a legitimate option to address health concerns, and are more commonly recommending massage therapy sessions to their patients along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions.
THE NEED FOR MASSAGE THERAPY POST-QUARANTINE
COVID-19 and the subsequent social distancing/quarantine has made the need for massage even stronger, On top of all the medical benefits of massage therapy, people are recognizing the importance of therapeutic touch after the stress and collective trauma of having to be apart and not able to even touch our closest loved ones. When we are isolated from our friends and family, and we find ourselves reduced to using elbow pumps instead of a hug or even a handshake, it goes against our basic human nature and the natural order of things. It feels completely awkward, because touch is ingrained in us as humans from the moment we come out of the womb. Human contact is essential. It is what connects us to others. If we deny ourselves touch, we deny ourselves the fundamental need of connection and of belonging. We need touch and connection for both our mental health and our physical health.
Explains Ericka Clinton:
“We haven’t faced something this scary in a very long time. A pandemic is a very serious thing, and obviously the safety of our clients, and ourselves, and our families, is most important. Massage therapy has lasted through numerous crises that we have experienced. If you think about our history — everyone mentioned the Spanish Flu of 1918 in relation to the intensity of the current pandemic. Well, Swedish Institute has been open since 1916 educating people, and people have been massaging since we knew we had hands. We survived that flu pandemic; we survived the outbreak of polio; we survived HIV and AIDS learning how to work safely with that particular virus. And we will get through COVID-19. Because massage therapy gives people the option of some kind of complimentary therapy as a choice to treat many chronic conditions that we see today — ones that conventional medicine does not have an answer for and where massage therapy is the most appropriate treatment.
Even though the current COVID-19 pandemic has presented the world with a serious threat, massage will survive this time as well. Although we were not considered essential [in the first two phases of re-opening], we will play probably one of the most significant roles in getting our world back together. The work that we do [as massage therapists] is too critical and important for wellness, well-being and healing. And we have a lot of healing to do — particularly after this pandemic. And because, quite simply, there will always be the need for therapeutic touch.”
Massage Therapy is a highly regulated healthcare profession. In the state of New York, for example, a massage therapist has to go to college, successfully complete over 1000 hours of training, pass a New York state board examination, hold a New York State license and a valid registration, and document 36 hours of continuing education every 3 years in order to renew their license registration and practice legally. Because massage therapy is a regulated as a healthcare profession, LMTs can choose to accept insurance as payment for eligible treatments.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can get started on a career in this growing profession, visit our program page.
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA)
The New York State Society of Medical Massage Therapists (NYSSMMT)