Massage Therapy: Not Just a Trend
Annual survey looks at growth of massage therapy over 10 years
(Evanston, IL – Oct. 23, 2006) – Massage therapy has been a growing trend in American culture, with 39 million
American adults – more than one out of every 6 – getting a massage annually. While relaxation (26 percent) is
still a motive for Americans integrating massage into their routines, using massage therapy for medical purposes
(30 percent) such as injury recovery, pain reduction, headache control, and for their overall health and wellness, is
even more prevalent, according to a recent survey commissioned by the American Massage Therapy Association
The following is a look at how the world of massage therapy has evolved for Americans, including use in their
healthcare regimens and the growing popularity of massage for Generations X and Y.
The Rise of Massage in Healthcare
With the growth in the popularity and use of massage therapy, more people are discussing it with their doctors
and healthcare providers, and more healthcare professionals are recommending massage therapy as part of a
patient’s overall health.
On their mind: Nine million more
people discussed massage therapy with
their doctor or healthcare provider this
year than five years ago.
Doctor’s orders: Almost twice as many
doctors recommended it to their patients
this year than five years ago, among
those who discussed massage therapy
with their doctors.
Providers weigh in: While physicians
led the way for recommending massage
therapy when asked (59 percent), nearly
half of all chiropractors (48 percent)
and physical therapists (47 percent) also
recommended massage when
Insurance adds: Seventy-nine percent
of 25- to 35-year-olds would like to have
their health insurance plan cover massage, the highest percentage among age groups; 63 percent of
Americans would be more inclined to try massage therapy if it was offered in conjunction with other
Who’s Getting Massage?
Whether Americans are getting massage therapy at a spa, as part of their chiropractic visit, at their health club, or
even at work, the use of massage therapy has increased from 10 years ago.
More massage: Twenty-five million more Americans each year are getting a massage today than they did 10
Men vs. women: The number of both men and women who received a massage in the last year has double
since 1997 but, at 23 percent, women still get the most massages.
American Massage Therapy Association
A booming industry: Older baby
boomers (ages 55 to 64) have tripled their
use of massage over the past 10 years, as
did those ages 65 and older.
Regional reach: The region that has
most increased its use of massage over
the last 10 years is the North Central (up
from 8 percent to 19 percent of those
surveyed). Use of massage per year at
least doubled in all regions - the
Northeast up from 9 percent to 18
percent, the South up from 7 percent to 16
percent and the West up from 11 percent
to 19 percent. The percentage of both
metro and non-metro residents getting
massage has increased by 9 percent points
The Future of Massage
One of the reasons massage therapy’s popularity is on the rise is its use by Americans ages 18 to 34 (Generations
X and Y). The annual AMTA surveys points to the acceptance and use of massage as someone ages, and
considering the younger generations’ views and use of massage it will likely surpass previous generations as they
rely on massage for therapeutic reasons and stress relief.
More than a luxury: Only 28 percent of Gen Y (18- to 24-year-olds) agree that massage is just a luxury,
compared to 94 percent that agree it can be beneficial to their health. Gen Xers agree: 92 percent believe
massage can be beneficial to their health.
Massage or medication: Massage therapy was three times more popular as a form of pain relief among 18-
to 24-year-olds than medication (34 percent for massage versus 10 percent for medication).
Pain relief: Ninety-eight percent of Gen X respondents believe massage can be an effective way to relieve
pain and 37 percent have already had a massage to relieve pain, while 48 percent of Gen Y have used
massage to relieve pain.
About the Survey Findings
The annual consumer survey was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation International August 10-13, 2006,
among a national probability sample of 1,013 adults (508 men and 505 women) ages 18 and older, living in
private households in the continental United States. The survey has a confidence level of plus or minus three
percent. Commissioned by AMTA, this is the tenth annual massage therapy survey of American consumers.
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is a professional association of more than 55,000
members. AMTA professional members have demonstrated a level of skill and knowledge through education
and/or testing and must meet continuing education requirements to retain membership. AMTA provides
information about massage therapy to the public and works to improve the professional climate for massage
therapists. The association also helps consumers and healthcare professionals locate qualified massage therapists
nationwide, through AMTA’s Find a Massage Therapist® free national locator service, available at
www.findamassagetherapist.org or toll-free at 888-843-2682 [888-THE-AMTA].
American Massage Therapy Association