Massage Therapy Facts
It’s a fact. Every year, more and more people rely on therapeutic massage and bodywork for relaxation, pain relief, health concerns, rehabilitation and general wellness. To help you better understand this rapidly growing field, we’d like to share some information with you.
Massage may be the oldest form of medical care
Egyptian tomb paintings show people being massaged.
*A Chinese book written in 2,700 BC – The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine – recommended the “massage of skin and flesh”.
* Today, 39 million American adults – more than one out of every six – get at least one massage each year.
** Massage therapy has been proven effective in: Relieving back pain Boosting immune system Reducing anxiety Lowering blood pressure Treating migraines Decreasing carpal tunnel symptoms Easing post-operative pain Alleviating side effects of cancer.
** Because massage and bodywork directly or indirectly affects every system of the body, it promotes health, prevents illness and injury, and speeds recovery.
In a recent survey, respondents shared their primary reasons for choosing alternative therapies:
41% General wellness
33% Treat an illness
10% Supplement traditional care
10% Prevent an illness
*** 77% of the companies identified as the “100 Best for Working Mothers” offer massage therapy to employees.
** Companies that offer massage therapy as an employee benefit include: Allstate, Best Buy, Cisco Systems, FedEx, Gannett (USA Today), General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, JC Penney, Kimberly-Clark, Texas Instruments and Yahoo!
** 79% of 25 to 35 year olds would like their health insurance plan to cover massage.
** In 1996, massage therapy and bodywork was officially offered for the first time as a core medical service in the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, and nationally certified practitioners provided key medical services. NCBTMB’s program includes practitioners from all modalities and disciplines, including Swedish massage, shiatsu, polarity therapy, Rolfing®, Trager® techniques, reflexology, neuromuscular therapy and more. Today, there are nearly 90,000 nationally certified practitioners serving consumers.
Massage facts Provided by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage
* Holisticonline.com **American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) Fact Sheets ***Thomson Medstat
More Than A Luxury - The Lifelong Value of Massage Therapy
From MassageTherapy.com By Lee Picciuto Originally published in Body Sense, Autumn/Winter 2009. Copyright 2009. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
One of the most frequently asked questions regarding massage therapy is if it's worth the expense? Massage is not just a simple back rub, nor is it just a "luxury" or occasional "treat." Research tells us that massage therapy is a valuable component of a well-rounded healthcare regimen, combating everything from chronic pain to the negative effects of stress.
Not Just a Back Rub
Some people are unaware of the great skill and knowledge that comprises a massage therapy education. I have had friends of mine express great surprise upon learning that I had to take anatomy, physiology, and other science-based classes during the course of my massage therapy education. When I explain my massage school curriculum to them, these friends usually utter variations of "Wow! I had no idea your studies were so involved!" If you are trying to educate others about massage, have them consider the profession's educational and regulatory requirements.
Education & Regulation
Ask your massage therapist to tell you about the extent of his or her massage school curriculum and completed courses. Most states regulate the practice of massage therapy with licenses, certificates, etc. Usually, the completion of a comprehensive examination is also required for state or national certification.
Many states and professional organizations require massage therapists to complete continuing education courses each year. This ensures that therapists learn about emerging modalities and current issues pertinent to the field.
Many massage therapists belong to professional organizations and commit to upholding rigorous standards of practice and codes of ethics. Through stringent educational standards, state and national regulation, continuing education requirements, and professional affiliations, the massage therapy profession has evolved beyond the "basic back rub" stereotype into a well-respected healthcare modality.
More Than a Luxury
The misconception that massage therapy is just a luxury is also prevalent. Some people believe that massage therapy is either an indulgence for the wealthy or a "treat" for special occasions. Most therapists have some clients who only come in once a year, usually for a birthday or special holiday. I have also encountered clients who have been influenced by others and made to feel guilty for spending money on a monthly massage session. These clients seem to think of massage therapy as a frivolity they don't deserve. They will say: "I try to explain the benefits I get from massage therapy to my spouse [friend, family member, etc.], but all they can focus on is the money being spent on a 'luxury.'" Admittedly, massage therapy has a monetary cost, but that should be weighed against the benefits of the treatment--diminished stress, decreased pain, improved moods, etc. There is usually a way to budget for a monthly massage with a bit of reprioritizing.
Insurance Recognition and Employee Benefits
With the healthcare benefits of massage therapy increasingly being touted, many health insurance companies are choosing to include coverage for massage in their plans. Massage therapy is also included as a healthcare option in personal health savings accounts being offered to some employees, while many employers are providing coverage for various alternative health benefits, including massage. With this expanded recognition in the medical realm, massage therapy is definitely shedding its former perception as a luxury and embracing its new role: necessity!
The Bottom Line
The bottom line I share with my clients is you do not need to be in pain or discomfort to benefit from massage therapy. In addition to being effective for pain relief, massage is also beneficial as a stress-reducing and wellness measure. In reality, massage therapy is an integral component of an overall health maintenance plan.
Lee Picciuto, LMT, NCTMB, author of Ethics in Practice: A Handbook for Modern Massage Therapists (DayOne Publishing, 2009) is excited about the evolution of the massage therapy profession. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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