During the Covid-19 outbreak, the fitness industry has been taking additional steps to make client safety the number one priority.
Just as personal trainers and gym instructors are expected to adhere to hygiene and social distancing guidelines – for example, ensuring that gym equipment is cleaned after each use – there are also guidelines for sports massage therapists to deliver their services safely.
Preparing for treating clients with sports massage
Sports massage practitioners are classed as providers of close contact services, which means you will have to plan carefully, put in place the appropriate measures and keep abreast of Covid-19 guidelines and restrictions.
You have a legal responsibility to protect clients and anyone you employ from risks to their health and safety.
Activities before you start treating clients should include:
- Preparing a Covid-19 risk assessment – take a look at the Health and Safety Executive guidance
- Preparing your workplace so that workers can comply with social distancing guidelines, including installing barriers or one-way systems where necessary and working in well-ventilated rooms where possible
- Ensuring your workplace is equipped with sufficient washing facilities, hand gel, cleaning spray, disinfectant etc
- Operating an advance booking service, taking payment by phone in advance, allowing more time between appointments to clean your work area
- Ensuring you have a system set up to collect client details in case they are needed to pass on to NHS Test and Trace. In the case of close contact services, you must ensure that customers provide contact information prior to entering your premises
- Ask clients to attend on their own and not to arrive too far in advance of their appointment
- If you have staff, you must keep records of their working patterns for 21 days
It’s a good idea to create a written Covid-19 policy with guidelines for your sports massage service and to send this to your clients in advance of their appointment. This can also be shared on your website and social media.
Most importantly, you should impress on clients the need to not book or attend appointments if they have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19 or if they have any of the symptoms, in particular:
A new continuous cough
A high temperature
A loss of or change to their sense of taste or smell
During sports massage treatments
While sports massage requires contact with your clients, preventative measures could include:
- Washing your hands regularly and asking the client to do the same
- Wearing an apron, Type II face mask and visor or goggles, and asking the client to wear a mask. Ensure you follow the correct procedures in how you use PPE, for example, ensuring a mask covers your nose as well as your mouth and not touching it once it’s in place
- Working from the back or side of the client, moving around regularly and avoiding the head and face areas as far as possible
- Reducing the length of the sports massage session
- Avoiding playing loud music that might cause people to raise their voices
- Keeping the room well ventilated
After sports massage treatments
Ask the client to wash their hands and make sure you wash your own hands. If you have used a paper covering on your bench, remove this and dispose of it safely; if you have used towels, remove these to be washed. Sanitise all areas and thoroughly clean the massage bench in particular. Dispose of any single-use items such as masks and aprons, or place reusable PPE items in the wash.
Don’t forget to…
Check official guidelines on a regular basis, as the situation is constantly changing and there may be new restrictions coming in on a local or national level.
For more information, see government guidelines on close contact services.
Sports massage in the time of Covid-19 does come with risks as there will be close physical contact with clients. Following guidelines will reduce these risks, but ultimately each individual must decide whether they wish to take them.