What is massage therapy?    

Massage Therapy spans a wide variety of therapeutic approaches, working to improve an individual’s health and well-being through the hands-on manipulation of muscles and other soft tissues of the body.

What are the key benefits of massage therapy?

Physical — Massage therapy is designed to stretch and loosen muscles, improve blood flow and the movement of lymph throughout the body, facilitate the removal of metabolic wastes resulting from exercise or inactivity, and increase the flow of oxygen and nutrients to cells and tissue. In addition, massage stimulates the release of endorphins — the body’s natural painkiller — into the brain and nervous system.

Mental — Massage therapy provides a relaxed state of alertness, reduces mental stress and enhances capacity for calm thinking and creativity.

Emotional — Massage therapy satisfies the need for caring and nurturing touch, creates a feeling of well-being and reduces anxiety levels.

Who can benefit from massage therapy?

People throughout the life cycle — from the very young and very old to those in between — all find that a professional massage can have special applications suited for their needs.

What is the origin of therapeutic massage?

Therapeutic massage methods used today have both Eastern and Western origins. The first written records of massage date back 3,000 years to early Chinese folk medicine and ancient Ayurvedic medicine of India. Shiatsu acupressure and reflexology spring from these Eastern sources, as do other contemporary methods.

Western civilizations were introduced to therapeutic massage by Greek and Roman physicians. Modern Western massage is credited primarily to Peter Heinrik Ling, a 19th century Swedish athlete. His approach, which combines hands-on techniques with active movements, became known as Swedish massage — still one of the most commonly used methods in the Western world.

What do research studies say about massage therapy?

Myriad research studies confirm that massage therapy provides physical, mental and emotional benefits at all stages of life.

How is massage therapy regarded by the medical community?

In many countries, massage therapy is an integral and important part of the healthcare system, with massage therapists working alongside doctors. While many physicians support the discipline, America is the only developed country where massage therapy is not yet an official part of the healthcare system. However, as U.S. health insurance providers increasingly look to prevention, they are beginning to extend coverage on some plans to include complementary medicine and the practice of massage therapy.

How popular is massage therapy as a form of medical treatment?

According to a 1993 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, massage therapy is estimated to be the third most prevalent type of alternative/complementary medical treatment sought by adult Americans — following relaxation techniques and chiropractic.

How often do U.S. consumers visit massage therapists and how much do they spend?

Estimates are that consumers visit massage therapists 75 million times per year, spending between $2 billion and $4 billion annually on these visits. A 1993 article in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that annual expenditures for massage therapy accounted for approximately 26 percent of the $11.7 billion spent on alternative healthcare-provider services and about 18 percent of the 425 million annual visits to such providers.

Is massage therapy a luxury?

This is a mistaken perception that is rapidly changing as massage therapy becomes increasingly accepted as a natural part of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, according to one media characterization, “massage is to the human body what a tune-up is to a car. It provides a physical boost to the weary, sore and stressed.”

What is the average cost of a massage?

Cost depends upon the type of treatment, the experience of the practitioner, geographic location and length of the massage. Nationally, the range is from $95 to $130 for an hour-long treatment, with home visits sometimes more expensive due to travel time.

What credentials should a qualified massage therapists have?

A qualified massage therapist should either be nationally certified or be able to document professional training in massage therapy at an accredited institution.

COMTA accredited or approved massage training programs require a stringent course of study, including at least 500 hours of classroom instruction in anatomy and physiology, massage therapy and technique, first aid and CPR, plus related subjects. AMTA membership is limited to massage therapists who have demonstrated a level of skill and expertise through testing and/or education. In addition, all AMTA-member therapists must agree to abide by the AMTA Code of Ethics.

How many massage therapists are there in the U.S.?

The number of massage therapists is estimated at between 120,000 and 150,000, including part-time and full-time practitioners.

In what setting do massage therapists practice?

Massage therapists offer their services in a wide variety of settings, including:

    • private practice clinics and offices
    • chiropractors’ offices
    • salons, spas, resorts and cruise ships
    • health clubs and fitness centers
    • nursing homes and hospitals
    • on-site in the workplace
    • in client’s homes

How can I find a qualified massage therapist?

Through personal referrals from friends or healthcare providers, or by contacting the AMTA at (847) 864-0123. When calling therapists, ask what services they offer. Inquire about their training, certification, fees, and ask for references. Personality fit is important; so is trust; so is feeling confident and comfortable with the massage therapist.

Is massage therapy a growing profession?

Yes, according to many indicators. For example:

    • AMTA’s membership more than doubled between 1990 and 1995, with other major bodywork organizations experiencing growth as well.
    • With an increasing emphasis on preventative care that tends to keep healthcare costs down, health insurers are beginning to extend coverage in some plans to include complementary medicine and the practice of massage therapy.
    • Today, 32 of approximately 120 medical schools offer courses in alternative medicine. The number continues to grow annually, with estimates that all 120 schools will offer courses in alternative medicine by the year 2010.
    • The National Institutes of Health created the Office of Alternative Medicine in 1992 to study the efficacy of alternative therapies.

What is fueling the growth of massage therapy?

The health and fitness movement is a driving force behind the growth of the massage therapy profession, as is America’s growing emphasis on wellness. Athletes and performing artists praise massage for the way it helps to improve performance and enhance recovery; doctors increasingly recommend it for stress relief and as part of treatment programs for chronic pain and other medical conditions; and, businesses have begun to recognize its potential to boost worker productivity and moral.

When might the use of massage therapy be inappropriate?

If you suffer from certain circulatory ailments (such as phlebitis), infectious diseases, certain forms of cancer, cardiac problems, certain skin conditions, or any inflamed or infected tissues, be sure to consult your physician before initiating any massage program. An experienced massage therapist will also be able to tell you when massage in not indicated.

What should a consumer expect when they receive a massage for the first time?

At first contact, the massage therapist should ask question about the reasons for getting a massage, current physical condition, medical history, lifestyle and stress level and experiences with specific areas of pain. If necessary, undressing takes place in private and a sheet, towel or gown is provided for draping during the massage. The therapist will undrape only the part of the body being massaged, insuring that modesty is respected at all times. The massage takes place on a comfortable padded table.

Does the consumer have any responsibilities during the massage?

A person receiving a massage should give the therapist accurate health information and always report discomfort of any kind — whether it’s from the massage itself or due to room temperature, volume of music, or other distractions.

Comments are closed.