Massage refers to the active manipulation of superficial and deep layers of muscle and connective tissue to bring forth relief, promote healing and/or enhance its strength. The term, in itself, means different things when translated into different languages –in Latin (massa), it means “mass or dough”, in French (massage), it denotes “friction of kneading”, and in Arabic (massa), it implies “to touch, feel or handle”. However, it is generally understood as the introduction of pressure, vibration, or tension to the body, so that certain processes are hastened or impaired. Other tissues targeted during massages are the joints, tendons, ligaments, lymphatic system and some organs of the gastrointestinal system. The areas that are usually worked on are the feet, fingers, hands, knees, forearms and elbows.
Now, this mode of achieving wellness has been around since ancient civilizations, with existing records in Rome, India, Japan, Greece, China, Egypt and Mesopotamia. In earlier times, it was actually considered as a form of medicine. Today, it is labelled as an alternative medical option, with more than 80 known modalities, practiced all types of health facilities and spas around the world. It was during the 19th century when massage’s influence grew in the United States. But because of medical advancement, its rise was halted between the 1930s and 1940s. And, it was only in the 1970s when massage therapy was picked up again, upon the realization of its significance in enhancing athletic performance.
There are currently more than 300,000 medical or physical therapists in the country and about 1,300 programs running to make them competent in providing clients with the correct physical treatment. Some of the subjects included in the curriculum are anatomy and physiology, first aid, CPR, kinesiology, and massage techniques, to name a few. And despite the fact that it is a freely practiced craft in other countries, most states in the U.S. require practitioners to get a license before they begin working as therapists. So far, forty-three states, five Canadian territories and the District of Columbia are imposing strict regulations on the industry – requiring professionals to get certifications, licensing and medical work up first – to prevent any form of malpractice, harassment, and cross contamination.
Currently, massage therapy is an $ 11 billion dollar industry in the United States, receiving more than 114 million requests per year. It experiences a huge following among Americans because of its physical and psychological benefits, and it is particularly popular among 25 to 35 year old men. Back in 2007, there were already 15,500 spas in the country, employing more than 340,000 people. With an annual growth rate of 17% and an increase rate in employment opportunities forecasted at 19%, it is apparent that there is no stopping the practice anytime soon. The average charge for a one hour massage is usually $ 63. And depending on the materials used and the severity of the condition or the intensity of session, this could very well go up to as much as $ 500 or $ 1000 for a 60 minute treatment. For instance, an exclusive diamond massage costs around $ 315 for 75 minutes.
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