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Why Do People Continue to Get Massage Therapy?

It's no secret professional massage therapists and bodywork practitioners rely on a stable client base for income. By providing client-centered treatments, a welcoming therapeutic atmosphere and conducting themselves professionally and ethically, clients are more likely to return for additional visits. But, are there other reasons why people continue to schedule regular appointments.

Over the past few years, research supporting the psychological and physiological benefits of massage therapy has been on the rise.

Determining the reasons for repeated use of massage requires listening to the clients about their needs, insights and activities. A recent study looked into the factors behind repeated massage therapy use and came to some interesting conclusions.

Study questions revolved around choosing massage therapy, the treatment experience, outcome and drivers for continued use. Focus interview questions included, but were not limited to:

  • What two words or key ideas come to mind when you think "massage therapy?"
  • What generally prompts you to go for a massage?
  • What effect or results do you receive from your massage sessions?
  • Does massage therapy have a long-term benefit for you? If yes, how does massage therapy add value to your life or situation?
  • Which ones are key in your decision to continue to have another (seek or re-initiate) MT?
  • Why would you choose to discontinue massage therapy?

massage therapy - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Results of the study showed four driving forces for continued use of massage:

  • Massage therapy was used for health management, the expectation and result of positive outcomes.
  • Their treatment goals were met.
  • The occurrence of regular appointments.
  • The "massage therapy culture" or the massage therapy experience was described as positive client—therapist relationships, effective touch and a proactive approach to health maintenance.
  • These results are in line with other studies that show massage therapy is considered part of wellness maintenance, placing value on the client's physical, psychological and emotional needs to achieve mental and physical balance.

Overall, massage therapy is a client-centered wellness practice where clients desire results. However, clients report that they continue to seek treatment because of the beneficial experiential aspect of receiving massage therapy. This suggests that it is not only the skilled touch of the practitioners, but also their ability to provide a professional and hospitable environment that draws clients in and brings them back. Practitioner professionalism definitely sets the tone.