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Escaping from the facade of high-end, luxury, unaffordable for your average American status, massage is quickly becoming considered an integral part of the basic wellness lifestyle. Riding on the crest of the same wave of energy that brought yoga to the West, opened our eyes to the dangers of GMOs and artificial food dyes, and made a household term out of mindfulness meditation, the integration of massage therapy into the healthcare paradigm has reached a crescendo. Although still generally classified under the caveat of ‘alternative healing,’ massage therapy’s inertia towards the mainstream medical model is undeniable.
Recent data published by the American Massage Therapy Association illustrates this trend. According to consumer surveys, fifty percent of Americans last year who received massage did so for medical reasons. Furthermore, of the fifty-one million Americans surveyed who discussed massage with their healthcare providers (including physicians, chiropractors, and physical therapists), 63% were recommended to massage therapists for treatment. Most often those surveyed were referred to massage therapists for specific concerns such as pain management, but a good portion (28%) received massage for relaxation and stress reduction.*
The widespread realization of the significant impacts of stress on the integrity of the human body is opening doors to a growing body of research on historically marginalized modalities, massage therapy included. While the mechanical effects of massage on muscle tension and blood flow are widely recognized and accepted, further research into the neurological effects of massage, and the medical implications thereof, will demonstrate the potential for massage therapy applications for both the prevention and treatment of disease.
By continuing to strive for the recognition of massage therapy as a tool for a balanced and holistic lifestyle, we can look forward to a future in which optimal wellness is the standard, not the exception.
Author: Sally Berger
Future Graduate of Atlanta School of Massage