The year is coming to a close, and 2020 deserves a look back at the most important news affecting the massage therapy field.

As we all know, the coronavirus (COVID-19) dominated the year’s coverage, and MASSAGE Magazine brought our audience information ranging from transmission and PPE to virus-related health problems and rebooting a paused practice.

We covered additional news and developments in the massage field, and our editor chose the following articles to provide this overview of 2020:

January: We shared the details of a therapist’s Salute to Service  Program, through which she provides free massage to military servicepeople.

Read “Follow These 7 Steps to Create a Giving-Back Program and Help More People in Your Community.”

February: We shared the MINDBODY report on the healthiest (and least healthy) cities in the nation, because health conditions impact how clients present in their massage sessions.

Read “Report Identifies Healthiest Cities in the U.S.: Where Does Yours Rank?”

March: COVID-19 began spreading quickly, necessitating cities and states to shut down nonessential businesses, massage therapy practices among them. This coverage was among the first articles published in our special COVID-19 section.

Read “Coronavirus and Its Impact on the Massage Industry.”

April: Resourceful massage therapists pivoted to creating online offerings, finding sources of grants and loans, and developing ways of staying in touch with clients even while their practices were on hold.

Read “21 Tips to Save Money, Cut Spending, and Keep Your Practice Poised to Re-Open When the Coronavirus Pandemic is Over.”

May: Amid the pandemic, a common refrain in the massage field was that massage therapists needed a unified voice providing guidance on safe practice procedures, PPE or sources of economic relief. One educator and author added her voice with guest editorials on unification and transparency.

Read “COVID-19 Has Exposed Weaknesses in National Massage Organizations’ Teamwork” and “The Massage Profession Needs to Face the Future — United”

June:  Our coverage of the effects of the coronavirus continued with more than 40 essays from massage therapists around the nation.

Read “Voices of COVID-19: Massage Therapists Share Stories of Challenge & Hope.”

June: Protests related to racial discrimination were widespread in the U.S. We covered the work of people who believe there’s even more the massage field can do to raise consciousness and effect peace.

Read “Benny Vaughn asks Massage Therapists to Do One Thing to Help End Racism” and “Massage Therapists Take Action to Support Cultural Competence.”

June: We reported on new research related to how the coronavirus spreads asymptomatically.

Read “What is Asymptomatic Transmission of Coronavirus and What Does it Mean for My Practice?”

June: Organizations including the CDC, OHSA and Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards released guidelines on staying safe while practicing health care.

Read “FSMTB Releases Guidelines for Safe Practice for Open Massage Businesses.” And “Best Practices for Maintaining Safety  Sanitation in a Massage Practice: An Interview with Educator Anne Williams, LMT.”

July: The business of massage began taking new tacks in response to COVID-19, with new marketing messages and communication practices.

Read “When You Reopen Your Massage Practice, This is How to Communicate Your New COVID-19 Policies to Clients.”

August: Researchers continued to learn more about coronavirus, and throughout 2020 we shared what might impact massage therapists and clients.

Read “Massage and Blood Clots: What we Know about Deep Vein Thrombosis & COVID-19 (Possible Mechanism Found).” And “COVID-19 Long-Haulers Puzzle Health Experts.”

September: Staying safe as a massage therapist, whether performing sessions onsite or as part of a mobile/out-call business, is paramount. We ran an excerpt from safety expert Gary Quesenberry’s new book, “Spotting Danger Before it Spots You—Build Awareness to Stay Safe.”

Read “Massage Therapists: Spotting Danger is Your First Line of Self Defense.”

September: COVID-19 had spread rampantly through assisted living facilities and nursing homes.  Some massage therapists specializing in geriatric massage said they believe this situation has resulted in increased professional standards.

Read “Will Massage in Nursing Homes be Changed Forever by COVID-19?”

October: Our audience’s desire to learn top techniques continued unabated throughout 2020, and we updated the Technique section of our site at least weekly, year-long.

Read “Make Orthopedic Massage More Effective using Active Engagement Techniques.”

November: Throughout 2020 we ran the Brick by Brick series of professional-development articles from the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.
Read “Professional Practices Protect Your Massage Career”; “Understanding Advanced Massage Techniques will Elevate Your Practice”; “The Value of Adding Assessment to Massage Therapy Sessions”; “This is How Your Knowledge of Pathology, Movement, Anatomy & Medication Improves Your Massage”; and “3 Ways Professional Communication Helps You Build Your Practice.”

November: Our 2020 coverage included several articles from the Massage Therapy Foundation, which educated MTs on relevant research, explained types of research, and elucidated the professional benefits of research competency.

Read “To Grow as a Massage Therapy, Build an Evidence-Based Practice” and more at

November: Medical personnel are increasingly expecting those massage therapists who work in such environments as hospitals and health clinics to possess certain competencies.

Read “Touch on the Medical Team: As Massage is Implemented in Integrative Care, Specialized Competencies Become More Important.”

December: As part of our look back over the past 35 years, we asked top massage educators and technique developers to reflect on their particular areas of expertise.

Read “Unprecedented Times: Here is the Inspiration You Need to Move into 2021 with Poise, Connection & Confidence” and  “Four Decades of Bodywork Techniques (From the People who Helped Created Them).”

December: 2020 was MASSAGE Magazine’s 35th anniversary. This timeline of events provides a snapshot of the events and decisions that have helped form today’s massage profession.

Read “A Timeline of Massage Events that Shaped the Field, 1985–2020.”

About the Author:

Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine‘s editor in chief, print and digital. Subscribe to MASSAGE Magazine’s print magazine, published 12 times per year, to receive special issues and print-only content.