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Massage Therapy and COVID-19

I’m sure you have questions. We all have questions. That’s a good thing. The practitioners that I know and trust, have questions. They have some answers too. But none have pretended to have all of the answers or to be the end-all in discussions as to how to keep clients safe, or what to expect from COVID-19.

Here, I will try to relay my best understanding of what we know right now and how I factor these things into your care.


This list is current as of May 16, 2020, and may change. Symptoms usually begin 2 to 14 days after you come into contact with the virus.

Common Symptoms

  • Fever: 99%
  • Fatigue:70%
  • A dry cough: 59%
  • Loss of appetite: 40%
  • Body aches: 35%
  • Shortness of breath: 31%
  • Mucus or phlegm: 27%


Other symptoms may include:


  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Chills, sometimes with shaking
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Stuffy nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Emergency Symptoms

Call a doctor or hospital right away if you have one or more of these COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Constant pain or pressure in your chest
  • Blood clots (more info below)
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Sudden confusion
  • Stroke


If you are experiencing these symptoms, you need medical care as soon as possible. Call your doctor’s office or hospital before you go in. This will help them prepare to treat you and protect medical staff and other patients.

While some of these symptoms would not normally prevent your massage therapist from working on you prior to COVID-19, currently we do have to consider that you may have the virus. Even if you are only feeling fatigued or loss of appetite. Your therapist will need to exercise caution, for the safety of all involved, and may say that massage is not safe until you know for certain that you do not have COVID19.

We never want to turn away a client, and we are truly doing our best to keep all safe. Please keep in mind that while your safety is an absolute priority to us, so is our own safety and the safety of our next client. While you may not agree with our decision, I hope you will respect our intent and reasons. And I hope that we have created a relationship of trust and understanding that will ease the path through the months ahead.

Blood Clots & Massage Therapy

COVID-19’s effects on the immune system could also affect clotting. In some people, it prompts immune cells to release a torrent of chemical signals that ramps up inflammation, which is linked to coagulation and clotting through a variety of pathways. And the virus seems to activate the complement system, a defense mechanism that sparks clotting. For this reason, your massage therapist should ask you questions about symptoms before each session.

While blood clots below the knee are unlikely to cause serious complications, clots above the knee can break off as a result of the massage and travel up the bloodstream, resulting in a blocked blood vessel in the lung (pulmonary embolism). Other consequences are damaged blood vessels leading to blood pooling, swelling and pain in the leg, and in the most severe cases with large clots, death.

Symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Discoloration of skin
  • Abnormally hot skin


What We Know About Transmission

COVID-19 is believed to spread mainly person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Exposure risk increases with length of time in close proximity.

For this reason, your therapist may require you to wear a mask and will most likely be wearing a mask themselves. There is no way to perform massage therapy without close proximity to our clients, so we must do everything we can to limit risk.  For clients who cannot wear a face mask due to COPD, documented claustrophobia, or other documented medical concerns, my office provides a face shield that must be worn.  This protects you, your therapist and future clients.

 Asymptomatic Transmission

It is not yet known what percentage of transmissions are from People who are not showing symptoms of COVID-19. But we do know that it happens. This not unique to COVID-19. Most viruses have a period where the carrier is asymptomatic but contagious. For this reason, it is vital that you tell your therapist if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Massage therapy is inadvisable. This is a great introductory article about viruses and asymptomatic carriers.

If you would like to know what measures my office is taking to reduce your risk of exposure, please see the document title “Sanitation Practices” on the Client Forms page of my website.

I share this information because I believe that knowledge is power.  We will be much more successful at keeping ourselves safe if we work together and understand why we are taking the measures and precautions we take.  Your safety is and has always been a priority to me and I promise that I will not compromise it in any way in the coming months.

I look forward to seeing you all and to doing my best to contribute to your health and wellbeing!