Living through a pandemic is incredibly unnerving, so it’s only natural to crave a soothing massage to help ease the tension. And now that many parts of the country no longer have COVID-19 restrictions ― even though cases are rising and we’re entering a third wave ― some people may want to act on that urge.
But even though getting a massage is technically allowed right now, is doing so actually a good idea?
Experts say that, like many things in the COVID-19 era, it depends. If you are high-risk or are frequently in contact with someone who is high-risk, it’s best to minimize close contact with other people as best as you can.
Outside of that, if you do choose to go, you need to take proper precautions and understand the stakes at play. There is a bit of risk involved no matter what, namely the result of coming within 6 feet of another person.
“Whenever you have two people coming together, there’s always a risk that somebody will be infected, even if you both don’t have any symptoms,” said Carl Fichtenbaum, an epidemiologist with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine’s division of infectious diseases.
When you get a spa treatment, that risk goes both ways: You are potentially exposing yourself to the virus, and potentially spreading it to your therapist. But Fichtenbaum said people don’t need to entirely rule out getting a massage when both parties are taking the proper safety precautions.
“People need a way to relieve their stress right now, and I don’t want to fault people for doing that,” he said.
The American Massage Therapy Association, a nonprofit professional association that connects and advises massage therapists, has all sorts of information online about what studios and therapists can do to keep themselves and their clients safe. It advises therapists to wear a mask at all times, and studios to space out their appointments to allow for time to clean and to minimize contact in the waiting room, as well...