Massage By the Numbers


Recently I wrote about how massage chair buying in the US is increasing.  For this post I decided to dig a little deeper into some underlying drivers for this growth; to perhaps illustrate how massage chairs will increasingly become a feature in American households.

To start I searched massage therapy figures in a more generalized light.  Whether from a massage therapist or a massage chair, the reasons people seek intramuscular massage treatment are the same. The statistics certainly validated that massage (and by association massage chairs) are a growth industry.

Here’s a look at the massage industry in the USA:

  • Massage therapy revenue was reported to be a $12.1 billion industry in 2015.  To put this in perspective, it was half that, or $6 billion 2005.
  • From 2011 to 2015, revenue from alternative healthcare providers (this is a defined group which includes massage therapists) increased 14%
  • Revenue growth for the massage industry is projected to continue at an average rate of 3.6% annually through 2020
  • In the one year between July 2015 and July 2016, 44 – 58 million adult Americans (up to 25% of adult population) sought massage at least once.
  • 50% of those who sought relief from massage reported to have received relief for pain management, soreness/stiffness/spasms, injury rehab, or overall wellness
    28% of those respondents indicated they sought massage for relaxation and/or stress reduction
  • 89% of consumers polled reported via survey that massage was effective in reducing their pain. My own note here: This is a rather remarkable data point, underscoring the consistently accepted beliefs in the effectiveness of massage. Our own informal polling of massage chair owners confirms this belief in massage therapy effectiveness.
  • 56% of massage therapists received at least two referrals per year from doctor or medical office. My note here: This illustrates the increasing acceptance among today’s medical community of massage for effective treatment.

Next, I decided to look deeper into the benefits of massage.  My question was how the awareness, and more importantly the validation of those benefits, might be affecting massage chair buying.  This was where it got interesting.  In particular I was surprised at the amount of clinical research studies confirming the effectiveness of massage for a wide range of physical ailments.

I could personally could vouch for the effectiveness of a massage chair in treating my own physical soreness, stiffness and pain – plus I can lean on the hundreds of consumer testimonials we’ve received about the physical benefits of massage chairs. However the results from broader studies were nevertheless compelling.

Here is a sample of conditions which have been shown to be effectively treated with massage via research studies:

  • Cancer-related fatigue
  • Low back pain
  • Osteoarthritis of the knee
  • Reducing post-operative pain
  • Boosting body’s immune system functioning
  • Decreasing symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Reducing headache frequency
  • Easing alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Decreasing pain in cancer patients
  • Fibromyalgia

This is quite a list supported by real research!  At this point I find myself resisting the urge to mimic a TV infomercial by adding “But wait! There’s more!”  However, there is more… My search into the growth of the massage-chair-zenmassage chair industry led me beyond the physical benefits of massage, to documented studies supporting the utilization of massage therapy as effective treatment mental and emotional conditions, as well as how massage is used to enhance feelings of overall well-being.  For example, research studies focused on massage therapy have shown that massage treatments are proven effective for:

Suffice to say these research studies confirm what our customers have known for a very long time – massage chairs are good for the body and the mind.  The number of doctors and medical facilities recommending massage for a wide range of conditions further illustrates the growing mainstream acceptance of massage as an effective alternative treatment.

With this data in hand, forgive me for once more lapsing into infomercial lingo, “So what are you waiting for?!”



I’ve added the studies I’ve referenced at the end of this post. It is also worth noting that the American Massage Therapy Association is a good source for information pertaining to the massage therapy industry in general.

1 Currin, J. Meister, E.A. (2008) A hospital-based intervention using massage to reduce distress among oncology patients. Cancer Nurs. 31(3):214-21.
2 Preyde M. (2003) Effectiveness of massage therapy for subacute low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Soft Tissue Manipulation, 8, 4 – 10.
3 Perlman AI, Sabina A, Williams AL, Njike VY, Katz DL. (2006) Massage Therapy for Osteoarthritis of the Knee. Arch Intern Med. 166(22):2533-8.
4 Piotrowski, M., Paterson, C., Mitchinson, A., Kim, H. M., Kirsh, M., Hinshaw, D. B. (2003) Massage as Adjuvant Therapy in the Management of Acute Postoperative Pain: A Preliminary Study in Men. Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 197(6), 1037-1046.
5 Rapaport, M. H., Schettler, P., Bresee, C. (2010) A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(10), 1-10.
6 Field, T., Diego, Miguel, Cullen, Christy, Hartshorn, Kristin, Gruskin, Alan, Hernandez-Reif, Maria, Sunshine, William. (2004). Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms are lessened following massage. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. 8:9-14.
7 Hernandez-Reif M, Field T, Krasnegor J, Theakston H, Hossain Z, Burman I (2000). High blood pressure and associated symptoms were reduced by massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 4, 31 – 38.
8 Quinn C, Chandler C, Moraska A. Massage Therapy & Frequency of Chronic Tension Headaches. (2002) American Journal of Public Health. 92(10):1657-61
9 Reader M, Young R, Connor JP. (2005) Massage therapy improves the management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. J Altern Complement Med. 11(2):311-3. PMID: 15865498.
10 American College of Physicians. (2008) Massage Therapy May Have Immediate Positive Effect On Pain And Mood For Advanced Cancer Patients. Science Daily 16 September.
11 Castro-Sánchez, A.M., Matarán-Peñarrocha, G.A., Granero-Molina, J., Aguilera-Manrique, G., Quesada-Rubio, J.M., Moreno-Lorenzo, C. (2011). Benefits of massage-myofascial release therapy on pain, anxiety, quality of sleep, depression, and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011:561753.