The Therapeutics of Massage

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about some pretty exciting figures from the world of massage therapy (see my previous entry, Massage Therapy By The Numbers). These figures, released by the AMTA, show how the massage therapy industry is growing at a fairly rapid pace.

Understanding why the industry is expanding goes a long way to determining whether this expansion will continue. Fortunately the report wrote a pretty straightforward (and what I think is a dead-on) explanation as to why the massage therapy field is expanding: “[Because] More and more people recognize it as an important element in their overall health and wellness.”

This is a very important trend as people really need to stop seeing massage therapy as an excess of the rich and pampered; it instead should be seen as a remedy for those who want to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Another look at some of the figures from the AMTA demonstrates what I’m talking about:

–    A 30 percent increase in the amount of hospitals that utilize massage therapy for patient stress and pain management between the years 2004 and 2006.
–    60 percent of Americans who want massage therapy provided for in their medical insurance.

So hospitals and average Americans are among the many who are beginning to recognize massage therapy as an important element in their overall health and wellness.

President Barack Obama may be seeing things the same way. At a recent televised press conference, Obama said that acupuncture – another form of therapy often listed as “alternative medicine” – has been proven to have therapeutic benefits in relieving chronic headaches and “other ailments.” He said that in creating a new national healthcare program he would let the science guide him when it came to deciding which forms of therapy would be covered, and which wouldn’t. He said he wants to “find out what works” and pursue those options – even if that meant including therapies, like acupuncture, that typically have not been covered by health insurance in the past.

This bodes well for massage as, returning to the AMTA report, massage has been proven to be effective in helping treat the following symptoms: low back pain, osteoarthritis of the knee, symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, frequent headaches, high blood pressure, cancer-related fatigue, and post-operative pain. It has also been proven to boost the functioning of the body’s immune system.

That sounds like some pretty strong science showing that massage therapy works. Whether or not massage ends up being a part of the possible new national healthcare plan remains to be seen. However, it seems clear that given the increasing amount of research showing massage therapy’s therapeutic abilities, the amount of people using massage therapy or being prescribed it will only continue to grow. This should mean a beneficial future for us all.

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