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Who Gets Massage?

Wellness Drives Americans' Growing Use of Massage Therapy

Almost a quarter of all adult Americans (24 percent) had a massage at least once in the last 12 months, and more than a third (34 percent) have received a massage in the last five years, according to a survey sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®).

While use of massage is growing, the reasons people are turning to massage therapy are also expanding. More and more, people recognize it as an important element of their overall health and wellness.

Massage therapy for pain relief
  • Almost one-third of adult Americans say they've used massage therapy at least one time for pain relief—just behind those who have turned to chiropractic (38 percent) and physical therapy (44 percent).
  • Of people who had at least one massage in the last five years, 30 percent report that they did so for health conditions such as pain management, injury rehabilitation, migraine control, or overall wellness.
  •  By comparison, only 22 percent had massages for simple relaxation, and just 13 percent for a "special indulgence."
People know about the role massage therapy plays in maintaining health and wellness
  • 87 percent agree that massage can be effective in reducing pain.
  • 85 percent agree that massage can be beneficial to health and wellness.
  • 59 percent would like to see their insurance plans cover massage therapy
...and many are beginning to act on this knowledge.

  • Almost one in five (19 percent) report discussing massage therapy with their doctors or healthcare providers.
  • Of those 19 percent, more than half (58 percent) said their doctors recommended or encouraged it.
Massage for health conditions finds a strong audience among baby boomers
Baby boomers have more massages:
  •  Respondents aged 45 to 64 have had an average of almost 7 massages during the past 12 months, while those aged 18 to 44 have had an average of five.
  •  Among those who have had a massage in the past five years, boomers have had an average of just under 20 massages compared to an average of about 10 for those aged 18 to 44.
Boomers are more tuned into massage's medical benefits:
  • Thirty-eight percent of respondents aged 45 to 64 said the massages they've gotten were for medical reasons, compared to 25 percent of survey respondents aged 18 to 44.
  • 23 percent of people ages 45 to 64 have discussed massage therapy with their doctors or healthcare providers, compared to 18 percent of those 18 to 24.
Who's getting and giving the gift of massage?

When it comes to giving massage as a gift to a spouse or significant other, men are on board.
  • Of the men who gave massage as a gift, 58 percent gave it to their spouse, and 32 percent chose a "significant other."
  • In comparison, women's gifts of massage went to spouses just 28 percent of the time and only 14 percent went to a significant other. Forty-one percent gave massage as a gift to a friend and 39 percent to a family member.
  • Overall, women are more likely than men to give gift massages (32 vs. 23 percent).
When it comes to usage of massage, women use it more often than men. However men's usage has increased.
  • 43 percent of women have had a massage in the last five years compared to 25 percent of men.
  • However, 17 percent of men had a massage in the last 12 months compared to only 12 percent last year.
  • A male-female "yin and yang" seems to characterize the use of massage for health reasons: women are more likely to have discussed massage therapy with their doctors (24 percent vs. 14 percent), but men have massages for medical reasons more often than women (35 percent vs. 27 percent).
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