Why is massage as a livelihood growing twice as fast as the average for other occupations? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 30,000 new massage therapists will join the 132,800 now helping people feel better and with many people, improving their health by relieving pain, helping people rehabilitate from injuries, improve circulation, relieving stress, relaxing us. It’s estimated that one of six people get at least one massage during a year.
We see massage therapists’ chairs and tables at airports, art shows, doctors’ offices, gyms, health clubs, hospitals, health food stores, fitness centers, resorts, salons, shopping malls, spas, sporting events, work places, in hospices, hospitals, locker rooms, nurseries, storefronts, and on cruise ships and movie sets. Some massage therapists regularly come into corporations and serve as “house nurturers.” Others will come to client’s home or offices to give a massage.. Almost 2 out of massage therapists are sole practitioners.
Why is bodywork and massage growing?
• Relieving stress is one reason. Nine out of ten adults from executives to overworked supermoms say they experience “high levels” of stress. Thus it’s not surprising that primary-care physicians report that 75 percent of office visits involve stress-related problems.
• Another impetus is that massage is now an integral part of many physical rehabilitation regimens and may be covered by insurance if prescribed by a physician or chiropractor. Some health plans cover massage now too because it seems to produce highly therapeutic results. Chronically ill patients who receive massage need less pain medication. Immune systems rebound in HIV patients, and blood pressure stabilizes in post-operative patients receiving touch therapy. Daily massage has helped teenagers with emotional problems. Premature babies who are massaged have gained 47 percent more weight and have been discharged six days earlier than other preemies. Colicky infants are reportedly less irritable and the elderly more alert. Some studies even show improved student math scores.
• The heavy use of keyboards and mice in computing has resulted in large numbers of people developing repetitive stress injuries. This has prompted recognition that people in many other occupations, from chicken pluckers to violin players, suffer from repetitive stress injuries as well.
Most therapists come to the profession after being in another career after completing an education program of 500 or more hours of study and experience. They study in one of the more than 350 accredited massage therapy programs and schools. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual earnings of a massage therapist was $35,970 in May 2012.
44 states and the District of Columbia regulate massage therapists in some way. Some require a minimum number of hours and training and passing an exam. In some states, counties and cities regulate massage therapists, requiring a license or certification.
As you might imagine, there are many resources and organizations. Here are some:
►American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is the oldest association of massage therapists and bodyworkers, offering an extensive number of services, including liability insurance: (877) 905-2700 or (847) 864-0123, www.amtamassage.org.
►Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) is an alternative organization to AMTA, with its own school accrediting organization, and includes skincare professionals (aestheticians and cosmetologists): (800) 458-2267, www.abmp.com.
►International Massage Association (IMA) offers lower-cost liability insurance and offers a home study course. The company that owns IMA also operates separate divisions for fifteen other healing modalities: (540) 351-0800, www.imagroup.com.
■ Specialty associations include the American Medical Massage Association, www.americanmedicalmassage.com; the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia, www.aobta.org; the American Polarity Therapy Association, www.polaritytherapy.org; The Feldenkrais Guild, www.feldenkrais.com; the International Association of Equine Sports Massage Therapists, www.iaespmt.com; the International Somatic Movement Education & Therapy Association, www.ismeta.org; the Rolf Institute, www.rolf.org; and the U.S. Trager Association, www.trager.com.
For an initial free consultation to explore this or another sustainable livelihood that bests suits your personality and your community, contact me directly for a consulting appointment. Paul offers consulting through Google Helpouts and as a SBDC consultant.
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