The Future of Massage Therapy – 2015 and Beyond
Whilst it is difficult to foresee the future of what is still considered a fairly new health benefit, there’s a general sense that the global approach to Massage Therapy is full of possibility and potential.
The last 50 years have already seen significant advances and as the world population has become increasingly unhealthy & stressful, Massage Therapy, along with other complimentary therapies, is now becoming an integrated part of the solution.
The National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health, NIOSH, report that 40% of US workers say that their job is “very or extremely stressful.”
The Depth of the Problem
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is predicting that by 2020 mental health issues, including stress will become the second leading cause of disabilities, leading not only to a severe strain on healthcare services but also on economies across the globe due to lost work days and workplace accidents.
Thierry Malleret, global economist reported, “In the not too distant future more governments will simply be unable to afford healthcare for their populations”.
Market Demand: Is it rising or falling?
Statistics from the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) show that in the 12-months to July 2013, 16% of US adults received at least one professional massage. With over 35 million American adults finding health benefits in massage treatment, this shows a phenomenal growth in demand over the last 5 years. Clearly this therapy is still favored by women as they account for 21% of those surveyed (11% men).
In terms of dollars though, the Massage Therapy industry in the US shows decline, or certainly not incline. Estimated at $8-$10 billion in 2013 compared to $6-$11 billion in 2005; the effect of the economy appears to be taking its toll.
The Life of a Massage Therapist
With 360 accredited places of study in the US and an estimated 300,000-350,000 massage therapy students there is plenty of interest in this as a career.
Two difficulties are common for the therapist though, 62% of who trade as sole practitioners. Firstly, hours are sparse with therapists averaging just 15 hours per week on actual massage activity. Over half would like more hours. Secondly, the average hourly rate of $65 is fairly static, with only a $3 increase since 2012.
To this effect, there is a heavy reliance on repeat business and almost half of massage therapists need a secondary income stream, typically from other healthcare activities or teaching.
Average annual gross income, including tips, comes in at just under $22,000.
New Opportunities in the Profession
Despite the often uphill struggle for Massage Therapists to make a decent living, there is expectation for employment opportunities to rise by at least 20% between now and 2020.
Collaborate and Integrate
Conventional medicine combined with complimentary medicine is referred to as “integrative”. In both the US and UK, there is a definite development towards a more integrated approach for the wellbeing of the patient.
“Massage, manipulation and dietary advice have become popular again and can be used alongside conventional medicine”. Dr Le Fanu
In the year to July 2013, over 50million US adults discussed Massage Therapy with their doctor. Whilst this is broadly the same as in 2012 it shows consistency in the confidence of this complimentary treatment.
Even more reassuring is the fact that over 62% of doctors recommended Massage Therapy for their patients as a supplement to conventional treatment. This is a significant increase on the 50% for the previous 12-month period and suggests a growing trend for 2015 and beyond.
The Benefits of Massage Therapy:
Massage Therapy has so many wonderful benefits, including:
- Soothing muscle soreness
- Improving sleep
- Boosting immune system function
- Increasing mental alertness
- Easing the effects of cancer treatment
- Aiding headache sufferers
- Alleviating depression
- Reducing stress
Of course, aside from those who use Massage Therapy as a means to treat specific health condition or for injury rehabilitation are those who just want to relax.
Almost half of massages performed are considered to assist with specific health conditions and injury rehabilitation compared to one third who received massage for relaxation and stress management. These figures are unchanged from 2012.
The Future is Hopeful
It would suggest the gap between conventional and alternative medicine is closing and the horizons for Massage Therapists is expanding towards being considered part of the overall healthcare field – 96% of Massage Therapists believe they should be.
What if in future years Massage Therapy is covered by the health insurance? Could this be the tilt the profession requires?