Massage Therapy for Regular Health Maintenance

Seventy-seven percent of individuals surveyed claim their primary reason for receiving a massage in the previous 12 months was medical (54 percent) or stress (23 percent) related, according to the 18th annual consumer survey sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®). Medical reasons include pain relief, soreness, stiffness or spasms, injury recovery, migraines, prevention, and general well-being.

  • 91 percent of individuals view massage as being beneficial to overall health and wellness.
  • 92 percent of consumers surveyed believe that massage can be effective in reducing pain; with 30 percent of respondents stating they have used massage therapy for pain relief.
  • The overall mean (excluding none) was 4.3 massages for those receiving massage in past 12 months. Those whose primary reason for getting massage was medical got a mean of 4 massages.
  • Overall mean (excluding none) was 10.1 massages for those receiving massage in past 5 years. Those whose primary reason for getting massage was medical got a mean of 10.9 massages.

Americans’ Reasons for Getting Massages Are Changing

Instead of seeking massage therapy solely for relaxation and pampering purposes, individuals clearly are turning to massage therapy to assist with medical conditions.

  • As few as 29 percent of individuals believe massage therapy is only a form of pampering.
  • In the previous 12 months, 21 percent of massage consumers received their last massage at a spa compared to 17 percent in 2013. This increase, and the presence of chiropractor’s offices, health clubs and physician’s offices/medical clinics on the list of locations where people receive massage, indicates consumers identify massage as an important component of overall health and wellness. The increase in spas’ popularity could be indicative of an improving economy, or the expansion of massage franchises, which consumers often equate with spas. This is a shift in the trend over the previous three years.
  • 74 percent of consumers agree that massage therapy should be considered a form of health care.
  • 56 percent of people have received a massage for one or more of the following reasons: soreness, stiffness or spasms, to relieve or manage stress, for prevention or to improve quality of life, injury recovery or rehabilitation, to keep fit or healthy/maintain wellness, or to control headaches or migraines. This compares to 43 percent of respondents in the 2013 study.

Health Care Providers Recommending Massage

Health care providers and doctors are more commonly viewing massage therapy as a legitimate option to address health concerns. Of consumers who discussed massage therapy with their doctors:

  • 14 percent were referred to a massage therapist by their doctor
  • 57 percent of respondents indicated that they were encouraged by their doctor to receive a massage, up from 48 percent in 2013.
  • 10 percent were told by their doctor that a massage might benefit them.
  • 59 percent of respondents said their physician has recommended they get a massage, up from 53 percent last year.