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  • Writer's pictureKirby Clark, MMT

Why I (Still) Need You To Wear Your Face Mask

Updated: Mar 9, 2022

Disclaimer: If you are ill or think you may have Covid-19, I implore you to stay home except to get medical care. Stay safe and healthy.

“Mask – On for the session, please. Yes, even face-down.” Why is your Massage Therapist still insistent that you wear your face mask during your entire massage?

Well, here we are­ - seven months into the Covid-19 pandemic and there are still overwhelming misunderstandings and confusion on the topic of wearing face masks. Including the most fundamental questions on the subject: when/where to wear a mask, and why wearing a mask is important.

To understand the importance of face masks, we must also discuss how this virus is spread. Covid-19 is transmitted from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets are present when a person coughs, sneezes, talks, or even breathes and can be inhaled when people are within six feet of one another. Face masks keep respiratory droplets contained and provide a barrier from foreign droplets.

It is also important to understand that Covid-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms or do not know they are infected. Because there is no current vaccine to prevent Covid-19, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that you wear a face mask anytime you are around people outside of your household; especially if you’re going to be in a setting where physical distancing is difficult to maintain. If you are coming in for a massage session, you likely do not live with your therapist, and maintaining physical distance is impossible given that therapists and clients are almost always within less than one foot of each other.

As massage therapists (like many health and wellness professionals), we are trained to analyze situations on a risk vs. benefit ratio. If the benefits of a course of action do not outweigh the risks, it is considered ill-advised and unethical to proceed. Massage Therapy is NOT a risk-free experience. Your massage therapist and staff are working hard to make your session risk-reduced, but it is impossible at this time to offer an entirely risk-free massage in the midst of Covid-19.

For 60-90 minutes, your massage therapist is tasked with keeping you safe and comfortable. Currently, that includes requiring you to wear a face mask during your entire massage. You never know when your therapist may need to cough or sneeze during the session. Furthermore, communication and breathing are essential for both the therapist and client. Unless you can hold your breath for an hour, I would highly encourage you to wear your face mask at all times. Masks are a critical preventive measure and are of paramount importance in reducing the risk of getting or transmitting Covid-19 and other airborne diseases. When I show up for my massage shifts (which can be anywhere from seven to twelve hours a day), I have my mask on before exiting my car and it stays on until I’m back at my car at the end of the day. My mask is there to protect you, your mask is there to protect me.

I understand and can sympathize that wearing face masks for a massage session can be uncomfortable and somewhat detract from the experience. But I am always quick to remember that wearing a face mask is more comfortable than having to wear a ventilator. The most common complaints my clients have about wearing a mask involve claustrophobia or trouble breathing. If you are having trouble breathing while wearing a face mask, then it is unsafe for you to receive therapeutic Massage at this time.

Your compliance as a client with the Covid-19 safety measures is beyond appreciated. I view wearing a mask as a commitment to the safety of our community and investment in ensuring our clinic can stay open for the future. It really is a sign of respect. When you wear a face mask you are participating in the risk reduction efforts the clinic staff is adhering to. When you wear your mask, you become more than just a patron and a client, you become a part of the team. I just think that’s incredible. From the start of the shutdown, I thought this was an awesome moment in history ­- an opportunity for global cooperation. Even through all of this confusion and tragic loss, I still am amazed by the weight and implication of this situation. We are all doing this together.

Peace and Healing,

Kirby Clark, MMT

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