It's not that massage isn't a luxury; it's that this once primarily spa-inspired service is emerging as a major player in the health care industry, capable of treating such serious concerns as stress, injuries and disease. If you haven't caught the recent Wall Street Journal rundown of why we might reconsider using the word "pampering" when describing massage, here are five facts to take away, in an easily digestible, quote form.
Serious health improvements. "Research over the past couple of years has found that massage therapy boosts immune function in women with breast cancer, improves symptoms in children with asthma, and increases grip strength in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Giving massages to the littlest patients, premature babies, helped in the crucial task of gaining weight."
Pain management. "The American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society now include massage as one of their recommendations for treating low back pain, according to guidelines published in 2007."
Medical breakthrough. "In a small study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine last month, a 10-minute massage promoted muscle recovery after exercise. In the study, 11 young men exercised to exhaustion and then received a massage in one leg. Muscle biopsies were taken in both quad muscles before exercise, after the massage and 2½ hours later." (Read more about this study in our post, "Massage is the New Advil.")
Popularity boost. "About 8.3% of American adults used massage in 2007, up from 5% in 2002, according to a National Health Statistics report that surveyed 23,393 adults in 2007 and 31,044 adults in 2002, the latest such data available."
Insurance pending. "The massage therapy field hopes that the growing body of research will lead to greater insurance coverage for its treatments. Washington is the only state that requires insurers to cover massage therapy."