While massage therapy as a form of healing has been around since 4,000 years, it is being recognized as therapeutic only in the recent 50 years or so. Americans are increasingly turning to massages as an answer to problems that surgery and medication cannot correct.
Bodywork is growing in popularity in the medical field, but more so in the wellness and supplementary health sectors. The sports and athletics field, animal care, race horse breeding, spas, and other high-end arenas are including massage therapy as a form of treatment.
Massage Therapy Healing
One of the principal factors why bodywork and massages are gaining popularity is that these treatments can help alleviate the symptoms associated with a wide range of ailments. This is true especially in conditions where conventional medication causes many undesirable side effects.
And, these results are being proven by medical research and studies conducted across a wide demographic of patients. To cite a few examples:
- Osteoarthritis: Clinical trials conducted at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that Swedish massage therapy could be used on patients suffering from osteoarthritis of the knees. These treatments showed were highly effective in reducing pain, stiffness and immobility. Massages were given for one-hour sessions one to two times a week.
- Back pain: According to studies conducted in 2003, massages and spinal adjustments were able to relieve back pain and reduce the patient’s dependency on pain medication by 36%.
- Cardiovascular Health: The International Journal of Preventive Medicine reports that researchers have found that patients taking regular massages show a lower blood pressure levels within 72 hours of receiving the treatment.
- Depression and anxiety: Massage therapy is known to lower levels of cortisol and thus, ease depression and anxiety. Bodywork sessions can also develop more of neurotransmitters that can cure symptoms of stress.
- Cancer: Massage sessions can help alleviate the many side effects of cancer medication. These can include nausea, fatigue, pain, inflammation, stress and can also relax the patient. This fact is substantiated by The American Massage Therapy Association.
- Headaches: Migraines and other headaches respond well to massages.
- Insomnia: Massages can help relieve insomnia and improve the quality of sleep.
- Care for the Elderly: The 18th annual American Massage Therapy Association Consumer Survey conducted in 2014 has found that senior citizens are increasingly preferring massage therapy for problems like pain, immobility, dementia, improving balance and for recovering from injuries and after effects of surgery.
Insurance Reimbursement for Massage Therapy
Since massage therapists are considered health care providers, they can now request insurance companies to reimburse them for the services they offer. The CPT or Current Procedural Terminology indicates the procedures and services that health care providers can bill and many of the codes included in the manual pertain to bodywork therapists.
While some insurance companies reimburse the massage therapists in full, other may pay in part and expect the patients to carry the balance charge. Some companies might also refer patients to a bodywork therapist they have affiliations with.
Insurance has made massage therapy more affordable and since more patients are opting for it, this has led to a rise in the number of chiropractors, clinics and other medical facilities offering therapy. However, therapists are advised to check with their state regulations with regard to billing and the necessary paperwork to be submitted for reimbursement.
Massage Therapy as Personal Wellness
In the recent years, massage therapy is also being viewed more as a personal care service aside from the health benefits it provides. In fact, some practitioners clearly differentiate between the two kinds of modalities since both are performed in different ways and need distinct training. Some of the massage therapy modalities typically focused on wellness are:
- Aromatherapy Massages: This therapy is performed using essential oils and is aimed at relieving stress, and promoting relaxation and the client’s mood.
- Hot Stone and Cold Stone Massages: This therapy involves the placing of hot or cold stones on different pressure points on the client’s body to ease muscular tension.
- Shiatsu Massage: A form of Japanese massage treatment, it involves stimulating the pressure points on the client’s body with the fingers to relieve soreness and muscular tension.
- Reflexology: This is another form of massage therapy that targets the pressure points on the hands, feets and ears to ease ailments.
- Thai Massage: Aside from stimulating the pressure points, a Thai bodywork specialist may use compression and stretching by asking you to assume different poses.
- Prenatal Massage: These massages are intended for expectant mothers and help ease the strained and fatigued muscles that occur as a result of the pregnancy. They are also known to assist with more relaxed delivery.
- Postnatal Massage: This therapy is used to help recovery after delivery.
- Infant Massages: This is intended for infants and is believed to help with growth.
- Swedish Massages: Performed using long strokes, this form of massage is good for muscle relaxation.
- Sports and Athletes Massages: Sports bodywork therapists work on both professional and casual athletes helping them prepare for performances, before and after events. These massages help improve stamina, reduce the possibility of injuries and condition the body and mind for sports and athletics.
- Geriatric Massages: Massages for the elderly involve special techniques using gentle touches and oils and creams designed to provide comfort without friction to dry skin. These massages promote a feeling of well-being and improve mobility.
- Horse Massages: Designed for performing horses, these massages are aimed at improving the speed and muscle and tone. They also enhance blood circulation and stamina.
- Chair Massages: These massage therapies are gaining immense interest because they can be given within in ten to twenty minutes in any surroundings. The patient can be seated in a chair and does not need to undress.
- Pet Massages: This is another specialized form of the therapy in which special techniques are used to relieve anxiety and promote wellness in pets like cats and dogs.
Upscale Venues Offering Massage Therapy
There are various upscale venues that offer wellness and massage therapy to the affluent with more disposable incomes. Getting massages is fasting becoming an element of a high-end lifetsyles. Aside from the typical hospitals, nursing homes and medical massage clinics, specialized bodywork sessions are being offered in many other settings. This is another factor that has contributed to the popularity of massage therapy. Some of them are;
- Resorts and Vacation Destinations: Many high-end vacation resorts and hotels offer spa facilities to their patrons while some others are primarily set up as health and wellness retreats.
- Beaches and Ski Resorts: Massages are offered to patrons going scuba diving and snorkeling and enjoying other water activities. Skiers can also use massages to relax sore muscles.
- Spas and franchises: Operating as beauty and wellness retreats, spas and their franchises are present in all cities and towns.
- Chiropractics: Private practices offering high-end wellness therapy
- Clinics: Many clinics and doctors that specialize in dentistry, physical therapy, acupuncture, cupping therapy, and osteopathology, among others have certified massage therapists on board. These specialists help to supplement the treatment given by the primary doctors and advance the practice as a whole.
- Massage Clinics for Pets
- Luxury Cruise Liners
- Health Retreats and Wellness Centers
- Private Massage Therapists
- Sports Franchises and Medical Centers: These facilities offer customized services to athletes and sportspersons from clubs and teams playing high-performance sports that involve large investment in their players.
Growth of Massage Schools
Given all these factors, it is no surprise that massage therapy and bodywork is catching on as a fast growing industry and is becoming a very lucrative profession. And to support the growth in the profession, we are seeing many massage therapy schools really take off that are offering massage training to prepare the next generation of therapists.
While the growth of schools has been prevalent, we are also seeing some consolidation in the industry. We are seeing small massage schools consolidate into larger, corporate brands that offer a standardized approach to massage education. In some cases, the larger franchises are more cost efficient due to their scale as well as readily accessible due to their national presence through a multi-campus presence.
If you are considering a career in massage due to its rapidly increasing popularity and necessity, especially since the Bureau of Labor and Economic Growth projects a 23% increase in the next 10 years, consider enrolling in a massage therapy school that fits your lifestyle and the demands on your schedule. You can use our comprehensive database of massage schools near you and request information from multiple schools for free from your own home.