Workplace Massage: A Growing Trend or Compelling Anecdote?

Skimming through back issues of AMTA’s Massage Therapy Journal, I came upon an article about workplace massage with a compelling headline: More Businesses are Offering Massage Therapy as an Employee Benefit. This was published in June, 2009, right as the economy pulled out of recession, and I was excited that the MTJ – a very thorough and professional publication – was going to provide some solid information about a possible growth area in the massage therapy industry.

Then I got to the fifth paragraph, where the article states clearly: “No data are available on the number or percentage of companies that offer massage therapy as a benefit.” While the article goes on to offer great suggestions as to how to build a corporate massage client list, it fails to substantiate the claim from its headline, that more businesses are offering corporate massage therapy for their employees.

Of course, there are reasons for optimism in the industry: according to the AMTA’s 2010 Industry Fact Sheet, massage therapy was estimated to be a $6 to $11 billion industry in 2005, and in 2009 it was estimated to be a $16 to $20 billion industry. That’s a pretty impressive growth rate over the course of four years (anywhere from 45 to 230 percent).

But where is the growth coming from? In my next posting, I’ll look at the most likely sources of growth in the massage therapy industry, but, for now, it looks like a lot of our conceptions about the corporate massage therapy industry will continue to come from wishful thinking and anecdotes such as those found in the article from MTJ.

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