Safety protocols are now in place for services at Pittsburgh Acupuncture and Massageworks in the Northside.

By Jason Phox

Photo: “Ashi-Thai” massage uses traditional Thai stretches that have been modified. Courtesy of Pittsburgh Acupuncture and Massageworks

The U.S. Census Bureau recorded a spike in anxiety and depression this June caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Many people are now working remotely, and are struggling to find a way to relieve stress in a safe environment. Enter Pittsburgh Acupuncture and Massageworks.

Providing a range COVID-19-safe massage therapies, Pittsburgh Acupuncture and Massageworks aims to help people deal with their modern-day stress and anxiety while being careful not to spread COVID-19 to their employees and clients: It’s their top concern at the moment, according to business owner Amy Green. Green said the clinic focuses on air circulation and does this with high quality Austin Air filters that turn the air over 10 times every hour. 

“I assumed it [COVID-19] was airborne, did research, and found effective air filters that were built in Buffalo, New York and used by the U.S. government,” said Green. “I ended up becoming a distributor for them and sell them to clients and other acupuncture clinics.” 

Green’s clinic enforces a heavy, 24-hour screening of their clients to help ensure that no one at the clinic contracts COVID-19. 

“We screen out anyone who is going to bars, restaurants, and other places where masks are not mandatory. Even if the clients wear masks around others who are not [wearing them], it is still not safe,” said Green.

Even though the clinic has lost some clients due to their screening, it has not had an incident in six months, according to Green. 

“We have everyone leave their shoes in the waiting room, so they do not track anything into the clinic. Also, we have the standard things such as temperature checks and hand washing sanitation,” she said. Additionally, employees at Pittsburgh Acupuncture and Massageworks take their breaks in their cars or outside instead of in a traditional breakroom.

As for therapies that the spa offers, Green said that for close work, therapists use high-quality surgical masks and face shields.

Two popular therapies the spa offers are Ashiatsu and “Ashi-Thai” massages.  

During an Ashiatsu massage, the therapist uses their bare feet to apply broad, deep pressure. Ashi-Thai uses traditional Thai stretches that have been modified. Clients are fully clothed for these sessions and therapists clean and sanitize their feet and follow strict protocols to keep their sessions clean. 

“[Ashiatsu massage] is really good for people [who want] a lot of pressure, and the client and therapist are apart physically,” said Green.

“The Safe & Sound,” a therapy created by Green, uses a weighted blanket and soundproof headphones to relax the body and mind and help relieve anxiety. 

“The Safe & Sound is great for people who can’t quiet their mind,” said Green. “We bombard you with sensory input until it relieves the anxiety.”

A new therapy Pittsburgh Acupuncture and Massageworks now offers is a remote breathing class, simply called “The Breathing Class.” It helps clients learn how to breathe with intent. According to the clinic’s website, the class is an “intensive, dynamic process that brings instant relief as well as long-term physical and psychological benefits.” Licensed massage therapist Iva Provias Lesh, who is “BREATHE” certified, teaches the class remotely. Green described the class as a systematic way to help people breathe better.

In a time where people are isolated and working remotely, people are becoming increasingly more stressed and anxious. Green’s goal for her clinic is to help people relieve some of these struggles. 

“We are seeing a lot of new stress and anxiety right now from the isolation,” said Green. “We see a lot of pain from people who are working remotely and sitting all day instead of being in an office. A lot of back and neck pain is being caused by working at home with a laptop, so we help guide people through that.”

Learn more about how Pittsburgh Acupuncture and Massageworks is helping their clients navigate the stresses of COVID-19 on their website at pghacuandmassage.com.

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