Shutdowns of close personal contact businesses during the novel coronavirus pandemic prompted Greenwood therapeutic massage business owner Donna Toland to transition her business fully to online in June.
"I started my business — Living Well Therapeutic Massage LLC — in July 2015," Toland said. "I work with older adults and disabled veterans. About 85 percent of my clients are age 65 and beyond."
In going virtual since the novel coronavirus pandemic, Toland said she does online sessions with clients and outlines exercises for them to do at home.
Vietnam Veteran Steve Murphy of Cross Hill said he's only been a client of Toland's for a few months and is anticipating when she can reopen for in-person sessions.
"I got shot in 1968 and lost my right leg, above the knee," Murphy said. "I've had a lot of pain for a lot of years, but she's helped me to reduce a lot of pain pills. My wife and I were both going for massage at separate times. Since the shutdown, Donna has shown my wife how to help with some of the massage."
Certified in several different modalities, Toland, a licensed massage therapist, said a primary focus of her work is with older clients and centers on mayofascial release. This is a gentle hands-on technique to help with chronic pain and restoring range of motion.
Toland is also studying health coaching and nutrition through Institute for Integrative Nutrition that started in New York City.
"Eastern medicine teaches you to look at the body like you would nurturing a garden," Toland said. "A body as a garden grows based on what you are putting in it. Western medicine looks at the body more from a mechanics point of view."
Toland said that whole person viewpoint is something she looks to bring to her work with clients.
Having to switch from hands-on to virtual, Toland said she sends clients links to Zoom sessions with her.
"They talk to me and tell me what's going on and then I have them stand and move so that I can see what's happening with them," Toland said. "We will go through stretches and using tennis balls in a sock, while making certain motions, can really help with some shoulder issues."
Toland said one client prefers to meet outdoors, spaced six feet apart, to go through sessions in person.
Toland, 57, has previously worked in a medical office management, done clinical intake for a pain management clinic, worked as a perinatal technician at a Raleigh area hospital, done paralegal work and worked in guardian ad litem capacities.
She started seeing a chiropractor in her teens to manage scoliosis, or curvature of the spine.
"I know what chronic pain feels like," Toland said. "My scoliosis was severe enough that the United States Air Force would not accept me out of high school."
She graduated from Clinton High School in 1981.
Toland went to massage therapy school in 2014, starting out in the South Carolina Technical College system and transitioning to a Greenville school, with an emphasis on medical-based therapeutic message.
She also does reflexology.
Toland said she can often observe signs of pain simply in how one moves and interacts with others.
"If you are in physical pain, it can make it hard for you to take care of people around you and hard to be friendly," Toland said. "Stay aware of your body and jot down what you are feeling and what's working or what's not, so you have that information when you go to your doctor."
Before pandemic shutdowns, Toland said she visited nursing homes to give hand massages, manufacturing facilities and package delivery services to evaluate causes of pain from repetitive motions.
"I have more than 100 clients, largely from referrals," Toland said. "With each, I like to develop a plan of action combining massage, stretches and exercises that they and their primary care physicians approve of...My clients definitely prefer in-person at my office. At some point, I'm going to have to open back up and I have a contract with the Veterans Administration."
Toland said when she decides to resume in-person services, it will be gradually, by appointment.
"I want to keep my clients and add more," Toland said.