In the 1930s and '40s massage declined somewhat but regained strength in the '60s as people explored ways of self-fulfillment. The '70s and '80s brought attention to personal fitness and massage was seen as an aid in sports training and wellness modality.
Massage and skin care have grown from humble origins to a large presence in society. In the mid1800s bodywork was brought to the U.S. from Europe, growing in popularity.
From the '90s to present day massage has moved to the forefront. It's more than a $10 billion industry employing about 250,000 therapists who provide 120 million to 135 million sessions annually.
Nearly 40 percent of Americans have tried massage. An estimated 33.6 million Americans age 21 and older received at least one massage in 2006, up 9 million from 2004. Massage therapy is included in complementary and alternative medicine and massage is on par in consumer use with chiropractic care and physical therapy. The most common reasons people turn to complimentary and alternative medicine are chronic pain and musculoskeletal conditions.
The Swedish massage one of the most popular of the 250-plus known types of massage and bodywork. There are more than 1,500 state-approved massage therapy education programs - there were less than 200 in the early '90s.
when the first esthetics school was opened in New York by a Romanian. 145,000 aestheticians work in the country, the number doubling between 2001-2005; in 2006 consumers spent $14 billion on facial services, not including hair removal or make-up sessions.
Professionals work in hospitals, clinics, salons, cruise ships, spas, and doctor's offices. Chair massage has been taken to work offices, factories, outdoor events, airports, malls, family activities and other locations.
Spas are springing up. The first day spa was in the '70s and medical spas are the fastest-growing segment. The public has close to 15,000 spas in the U.S.
Two major accrediting bodies for schools are the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation and the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences. A trend in the industry has been more practitioners cross-training for dual-licensure, providing for a more comprehensive program and well-rounded professional.
Well-known educators such as Elizabeth Grady Schools and Steiner Leisure have degree and non-degree massage and esthetics curriculums.
A bright future is set for health-minded consumers and people who are thinking about working in these fields. As interest grows, research is done, and advances are made in the sciences that prove the benefits of bodywork and skin care, the relationship between the public and professional will go deeper to foster trust and mutual understanding.