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Are These Really New Sanitation Guidelines???

Y’all…I’m giving a little bit of tough love today. It might be a little more on the tough part than the love part, but it’s because I love y’all. So let’s talk about some things I keep seeing over and over again when it comes to the new guidelines and such as massage therapists get back to practice.

So, COVID has sparked this massive rush to increase sanitation protocols in the industry, right? Everybody’s getting masks and creating checklists, and there’s disinfectants and sanitizers and PPE flying off the shelves. Great. But I also see some things coming up that need to be talked about. Ok, let me start by saying this is not a comprehensive sanitation guideline at all. You want that, you can check out our full class that we did for our members by becoming one using the button at the bottom of the page. What this is going to do, is address two things that really need to be discussed in our profession.

Number one…you should have ALWAYS been changing the blanket after every client. The fact that this is not taught in most schools it seems, the fact that somehow it’s just the norm in this profession to reuse a blanket client, after client, after client…y’all…it’s just nasty. You want to know one of the many reasons we aren’t taken seriously as a profession in the medical community – look no further than the fact that the majority of massage therapists seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to use the same blanket on 10, 20, 50, 100 clients before they finally wash it.

“But I don’t touch the blanket”….yes you do.

“The client doesn’t touch the blanket because I fold the sheet over just right”…yes they do.

And even if, by some magic skills, you and the client don’t directly touch the blanket with your hands, how is a flat sheet between the clients bare butt, or sweaty back, or anything else and the blanket some magic barrier that nothing can get through? It’s not. It’s cloth. It’s linen. It’s not a bio barrier that prevents things from going through. Plain and simple. And even beyond the client as they lay on the table…think about this. How many of your clients can stand on one leg for any amount of time to put on their underwear or pants? Considering how many massage clients have physical limitations that would affect that, I’m going to say a large part cannot in fact stand on one leg while getting their clothes back on. Which means…guess what…they’re sitting their bare butt on that table, more than likely, right on that blanket. How many clients do you feel comfortable letting do that before you wash it? Or how about this…next time you have a client getting on the table, be sure to tell them that you’re using the same blanket you just had on the last 20 clients. See how they react. Don’t want to tell them that? Then that should tell you it’s not right. Yes, it’s more laundry, but that’s just part of our profession. Get over it, buy some new blankets, and wash them after every client.

Alright, number two…you should have ALWAYS had a barrier between your heating pad or cushioning pads, or whatever other fluffy stuff you have for comfort, and the fitted sheet. There should be a barrier, something that can be sanitized after each client, between anything soft on your table and that bottom sheet or linen the client is laying on. I was laughed at for suggesting this openly over the last few years, with all kinds of excuses and junk like “you’re too paranoid” or “I spray the heating pad with Lysol” or “you must have some leaky clients if you think that’s necessary”. You don’t have to be a physician or pathologist or infectious disease specialist to understand that cloth, the linens you’re using underneath your client, are not stopping anything from reaching that heating pad underneath. Oil, sweat, bodily fluids, respiratory drops infected with any kind of pathogen, all kinds of stuff can just soak on through that flat sheet. And even if you think you have the most special, cleanest, and healthiest clients in the world, they can still get their own human nastiness all over there. Just for an example, I’ve known a few therapists who have had clients unknowingly start their period on the table and yeah, it got on the sheets, and if they hadn’t had a solid, sanitizable barrier between their sheet and that heating pad or cushion underneath, it would have soaked through and then you’re talking potentially blood borne pathogens involved. Or if a client has incontinence or pelvic floor issues and sneezes and pees a little. I mean, this isn’t just about your oil soaking through as gross as rancid oil is. Seriously, you can get reusable table protectors for less than $20. And if you’re worried about the noise of anything plastic or crinkly as you work, go get a big piece of vinyl cut and use that to cover your table. That’s what I’ve always done. Then sanitize that thing between every client.

It should not take a pandemic for our profession to practice basic hygiene and sanitation protocols. This profession, and apparently the schools and licensing boards need a big wake up call to bring our sanitation standards up dramatically if this kind of stuff is what is taught and what’s “normal” in our profession. Because it shouldn’t be. And if we want to be taken seriously as a health profession, we have to start by knowing how to keep our clients safe in our care.

If you want to see our full video about detailed sanitation guidelines along with marketing and pricing tips for a post-shutdown world, check out our membership using the button below and join now to get access to that and a whole lot more.

Hey there! I'm a massage therapist, educator, writer, and business pro helping massage therapists around the world build successful businesses. My goal is to give you everything you need to start, run, and grow a profitable massage practice that supports a life you love, all without the headaches I went through learning how to do it myself.

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