Massage Makes Me Happy Initiative

2023 Trends

The Massage Makes Me Happy Initiative Trend reminds us that massage can serve as a beneficial modality for new health and wellness challenges.

TREND 1: Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are on the rise for both clients and practitioners.  Moreover, anxiety and depression can affect anyone and manifest differently in each person.  However, there are ways to manage and treat both conditions. Studies show that massage can actually relieve the depression and anxiety that is affecting the body’s biochemistry, according to the Touch Research Institute at the University Of Miami School Of Medicine. In part, this is because massage therapy can relieve the tension that naturally happens in muscles and connective tissues when they become stiff. Blood flow increases and that alone promotes relaxation to create relief from the physical symptoms of depression including back pain, muscle aches, sluggishness, and sleeping problems.

TREND 2: Mental Health

A new survey on mental health from the You-Gov Cambridge Globalism Project shows that 53 percent of American women said their working life has become more stressful due to the pandemic, 50 percent of people in the US ages 18 to 24 say the pandemic has badly affected their mental health, and just 43 percent of the overall U.S. population say they feel optimistic for the future. High-profile athletes (Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles) and others are being honest about struggles with mental health—and although massage is not a replacement for mental health care and referrals should be made as needed, massage therapy has been found by researchers to decrease anxiety and depression while boosting feel-good hormones like oxytocin.

TREND 3: Massage as a Healthcare Modality

Massage continues to be considered more for wellbeing and healthcare versus the historical just for relaxation and pampering.  Of consumers that discussed massage with their doctor, 57 percent of respondents discussed pain relief or pain management, 36 percent discussed injury recovery or rehabilitation, and 47 percent mentioned soreness, stiffness, and spasms.

TREND 4: Mindfulness

Mindfulness, a practice developed through meditation, breathwork, and remembering to be here now, is increasingly playing a role in massage therapies. Mindfulness has been seen as an antidote to modern stressors for many years but has taken on a larger significance due to the pandemic, political strife and growing unease about what may come.

“The almost unfathomable upheavals of the global pandemic have been an ongoing reminder of the fragility of our lives; we have felt, again and again, how hopes and plans and expectations can be dashed without warning,” says educator and author David M. Lobenstine, LMT. “As a result, the gift that mindfulness gives—a reminder to remain in the present moment—is more valuable than ever.” Practicing mindfulness during a massage session can be particularly powerful, he adds. “When we become aware of the rise and fall of our own breath—when we notice our wandering thoughts without judgment and bring our attention back to the next exhalation—then we provide a template for the client to do the same and feel more at ease in their own body and brain and breath.”