Consumer Views & Use of Massage Therapy

Read the latest research on consumers' views of the massage profession and their use of massage from AMTA's 22nd annual survey. 

Woman talking with massage therapist

How to Choose a Massage Therapist

American massage consumers view the American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®) as the most respected and credible name in massage therapy – four times higher than any other massage organization or business.

  • Consumers prefer their massage therapist be a member of AMTA four to one over any other national massage organization or business.

  • AMTA remains the most trusted name in massage therapy by a ratio of more than 5-1 among adults who have had a massage in the past year.

  • Consumers see AMTA as having the best trained and educated massage therapists.

  • Twice as many massage consumers in the past year looked for an AMTA massage therapist compared to members of any other group.

  • 21 percent of consumers surveyed reported receiving a massage from a professional massage therapist in the past year.

Finding a professional massage therapist is vital to a positive massage experience. AMTA massage therapists have demonstrated a level of ability through education and/or testing, adhere to a code of ethics and must meet continuing education requirements. AMTA offers a free professional massage therapist locator service at


Top Reasons for Getting Last Massage in 2019

  • 86 percent of individuals surveyed view massage as being beneficial to overall health and wellness.

  • 87 percent of individuals surveyed believe that massage can be effective in reducing pain; with 30 percent of respondents stating they have used massage therapy for pain relief.

  • Consumers received an average of 4.4 massages in the past 12 months.

  • Consumers received an average of 12.7 massages in the past 5 years.

Reasons to Get a Massage

Consumers have quickly learned the value and efficacy of massage therapy as an important approach for health and medical conditions. 

  • As few as 28 percent of individuals believe massage therapy is only a form of pampering. 
  • In the previous 12 months, 22 percent of massage consumers received their last massage at a spa compared to 20 percent in 2018.
  • 71 percent of consumers agree that massage therapy should be considered a form of health care.
  • 78 percent of massage consumers have used massage for medical reasons. 
  • 30 percent of consumers have used massage as a form of pain relief. 
  • 35 percent have considered massage therapy as an alternative to opioids or other prescription pain relievers.

Massage for Health and Wellness

78 percent of individuals surveyed claim the primary reason for receiving their last massage in the previous 12 months was medical (52 percent) or stress related (26 percent).

Medical reasons included pain relief, soreness, stiffness or spasms, injury recovery, migraines, prevention, pregnancy or prenatal, and general well-being.

Consumers Are Discussing Specific Medical Conditions with their Doctors

  • 30 percent of respondents discussed pain relief or pain management with their doctor.

  • 23 percent discussed injury recovery or rehabilitation with their doctor.

  • 14 percent discussed soreness, stiffness, and spasms with their doctor.

  • Other conditions discussed included headaches, pregnancy, and relaxation or stress reduction. 

Medical Providers Are Recommending Massage

Medical providers and doctors are more commonly viewing massage therapy as a complementary option to address health concerns. 

Of consumers who discussed massage therapy with their doctors:

  • 9 percent were referred to a massage therapist by their doctor.

  • 24 percent indicated they were strongly recommended by their doctor to receive a massage.

  • 29 percent indicated that they were encouraged by their doctor to receive a massage.

  • 17 percent were told by their doctor that a massage might benefit them.