Since the Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) and the following lockdowns, there’s been a global surge in online education. Public and private schools and other educational institutes try to offer their study curricula and courses online or via other methods of distance learning. We now see the same happening, although more moderately, with massage training courses.
Online education works well for non-touch theoretical subjects, like geography, mathematics, or language teaching, well, if you have the teaching infrastructure for it, that is, apps, learning materials, adequate and reliable Internet connections and equipment, and so on.
Nevertheless, for physical contact and touch subjects, such as dance, martial arts or massage, online training is not the way and it will not work. That is, some things do work, as already being done in past years, but let’s take massage training as an example to clarify my point:
Now, knowledge of massage theory, like anatomy and physiology, other theoretical aspects of the massage modality you want to learn, such as the theoretical part of the Meridians in Chinese Medicine, or the Sen Energy Lines in Thai Massage, general knowledge about hygiene, precautions and contraindications, and such, can be transmitted perfectly well via online or distance learning.
This also counts for additional techniques of a massage modality you already master fully. The latter, for instance, comes handy for fulfilling so-called Continuing Education requirements. Or, if you just want to know a bit more about a certain massage treatment you don’t master yet, then a video or online syllabus can do the job.
But to actually learn a new or new aspects of a massage modality, you really need physical contact with the teacher and other students. You need to feel how a technique works on you (with the teacher or other students performing a technique on you) and you really need to have an actual human being to practice on (with close monitoring of the teacher) to fully understand what you’re doing, and how your treatment is experienced by another person. This will never be possible through online training, whatever advanced video or communication techniques are used.
In that sense, the Coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent closure of physical massage schools is a heavy burden on massage training. Moreover, people may fear intimate physical contact in the years to come, which may be another additional hit on the massage and wellness industry.
In any case, online massage training will not be a solution to counteract the measures and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the best case scenario there will be an increase in offerings of theoretical knowledge and Continuing Education training, but new certified and accredited massage therapists cannot be trained online.
Let’s be honest, can you imagine being given a Thai Massage by a therapist who learned the trade on YouTube? Well, I can — the world is crazy enough nowadays — yet, I would be happy to have the hospital emergency room around the corner.