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  • Writer's pictureEquilibrium Pain Management Coaching & Massage Therapy

Massage therapy and COVID-19

(Updated 17/3/20)

Prior to winter I generally do a post to remind clients about reducing the risk of passing on winter nasties and what to do if you are sick and have a massage booked. The current international concerns about the spread of coronavirus as well as flu season being around the corner makes this the perfect time for me to remind clients about my standard advice. While New Zealand currently still remains a low risk with a very small number of cases and no community transmission yet, it is still important that we keep ourselves and others safe.

Firstly, if you are well, have not been in contact with anyone who is sick, and have not returned from overseas travel within the last 14 days, then it’s fine to continue with massage therapy as normal. There are a number of standard hygiene practices I always use in my clinic to keep myself and my clients safe, and I have added in a number of extra ones to minimise risk for myself and clients.

In line with government advice about travel and self-isolation, I ask that any client who has been overseas within the last 14 days delay booking a massage appointment until after that time.

For what to do when you are sick, what to do if you have been travelling overseas and are thinking of having a post-trip massage when you get back, as well as some other information about basic hygiene, read on.

What should I do if I’m sick and have a massage booked?

Firstly, as is ALWAYS the case, if you have a massage booked and you are sick (e.g. cold, cough/sore throat, sniffles/sneezing/runny nose, fever, respiratory symptoms, gastrointestinal bug etc) the best thing to do is to cancel your appointment. I don’t charge a cancellation fee when clients cancel due to illness so no need to worry about having to pay for an appointment you can’t attend because you are unwell. If you are a bit unsure about whether you should turn up for your massage appointment, by all means do get in touch with me and we can have a chat.

Sometimes, getting a massage when you are sick may amplify how unwell you feel, particularly if you are coughing, sneezing or have a runny nose. which can mean a not so enjoyable massage. No one wants that!

If you are sick and in the contagious stage, there is a high risk that you may share your infection with me, which also puts me at risk of unwittingly infecting others I come in to contact with after seeing you. Some of my clients have compromised immune systems or have immediate family members with compromised immune systems, some are elderly and have greater risk due to other conditions, should they become unwell. By cancelling your massage, you avoid passing anything on to me and also other clients, which helps to reduce the spread of infection.

Please be aware that I reserve the right to turn clients away who turn up to an appointment when sick, this is at no cost to clients. This is to help minimise any community transmission of COVID-19.

If you do suspect that you have coronavirus, please call Healthline free on 0800 358 5453 in the first instance, rather than turning up at your GP or hospital. They will give you advice on what to do.

So, the key message regarding massage is:

If you are sick - stay home, rest, keep hydrated, look after yourself, phone your GP or Healthline if you are unsure or concerned about your symptoms.

You can rebook your massage for a later date when you have recovered, and you will enjoy it so much more!

A reminder about basic hygiene measures

The Ministry of Health advise that to protect yourself, basic hygiene measures are the most important way to stop the spread of infections. Basic hygiene measures include:

  • Washing your hands regularly with soap and water, and drying them

  • Using alcohol-based hand sanitiser where soap and water is not accessible

  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and disposing of the tissue in a bin or plastic bag

  • Cleaning surfaces regularly

  • Staying at home if you are sick

Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles, from University of Auckland's medical department advises to follow these tips when washing your hands:

  • Get plenty of lather on your hands

  • Wash all over your hands, including the backs of your hands and up on your wrists

  • Wash for 20 seconds - enough time to sing 'Happy Birthday' twice

  • Dry your hands thoroughly to avoid picking up new germs

You can watch this short video clip – Covid-19: How to wash your hands effectively

What if I’ve been travelling overseas

If you have recently returned from overseas from any of the countries listed here, please follow the instructions regarding notification and self-isolation found here:

If you are about to travel or have recently entered New Zealand, please follow the information and instructions here:

If the advice from the Ministry of Health or Healthline is for you to isolate yourself for 14 days and you have a massage booked in the time, then you should cancel your massage appointment.

Advice for the public

This Ministry of Health page contains up to date information and advice for the public about coronavirus. It’s worth checking it regularly to see what has changed:


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