I am writing to appeal for your support and understanding in the case for the re-opening of massage therapy provision.
We feel there has been some gross misunderstanding of the practice, value and standards in the massage industry. The massage industry is not run in massage parlours, and indeed many massage therapists find this term insulting and derogatory. It happens in many different ways, primarily by individual sole traders, but also in larger groups of allied clinics and in the spa setting too. These are valuable therapists providing valuable and often technical assessments and work for the public. These are the public who cannot get the treatments they need from the NHS due to the criteria required for physiotherapy treatment or the long waits involved. Similarly for those requiring help with
anxiety and depression etc where there is again often again a long wait for IAPT and CBT services. Massage and reflexology can help people to regulate their emotional states through the hormones released during these treatments while they wait for talking therapies, and indeed can sometimes help avoid the need for talking therapies. Many elderly people would not have anyone touch them for weeks if it was not for massage treatments. Touch is a crucial part of our physiology that is under valued by a medical-model approach to health.
We run a private massage training academy - Cotswold Academy of Health and Sport in Cirencester. Over the last 10 years we have trained many massage therapists; sports massage therapists, reflexologists, aromatherapists, holistic massage therapists and others, many of whom are running thriving businesses all over the country and internationally, all helping many clients with both musculoskeletal issues as well as for stress and wellbeing. One of the clear aims of our college is to further raise the standards in the our industry, which I believe we have done, and hence the understanding amongst massage clients about what they can expect from their treatments with us. I believe this attitude has changed tremendously over the last twenty years. We were dismayed to see massage so conveyed by the expression 'massage parlour' in the main media literature. This does nothing for our industry.
All professional massage therapists have had to put their businesses on hold since the middle of March, as have we. Mostly they are self employed and mostly work in their own clinics where they help and support their clients. Body work, with appropriate PPE is already being allowed by physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors, so the risk of direct body work has been assessed in these circumstances. In the light of hairdressers opening as well it feels very difficult to understand why massage has not been given the green light.
The need for safe therapeutic touch has never been higher given the restrictions around social distancing. Even with Bubbles being allowed, still 'no touching' is recommended. Touch/massage is a proven therapy to reduce stress and depression. The science is clear showing touch effecting the release of important well-being hormones such as oxytocin. This is so important given the amount of fear and trauma that people have been experiencing over the last three months, whether in lockdown or working on one of the frontlines. This is not a “less essential” industry, it supports many many people who rely on their therapist to keep them going, whether that is emotionally or physically. I am asking for your support for the understanding in support of the imminent re-opening of these very valuable therapy clinics.