101 Statistics about Sports Massage

Interested in learning more about sports massage therapies? We know finding facts and figures about sports massage can be time-consuming and frustrating, so we put together this list of the top 101 facts, notes, and statistics so you can easily reference them and refer back to them any time in the future. This space is constantly changing, so if you see a fact that is not up-to-date, feel free to let us know. And if you know a stat that we should add, let us know that too!Sports massage is a form of bodywork geared toward participants in athletics.

  • Sports massage is a form of bodywork geared toward participants in athletics.

It is used to help prevent injuries, to prepare the body for athletic activity and maintain it in optimal condition, and to help athletes recover from workouts and injuries. 

  • Sports massage is a systematic manipulation of the soft tissues of the body that focuses on muscles relevant to a particular sport.

  • Runner Paavo Nurmi, known as the “Flying Finn,” was one of the early users of sports massage.

Nurmi is said to have used sports massage during the 1924 Olympics in Paris where he won five gold medals.

  • Jack Meagher is thought to be the father of sports massage in the United States.

During World War Two Jack Meagher, the “father of American sport massage” served in the US army as a medic. He first encountered the techniques of the sports massage when a German POW gave him one.

  • Sports massage began in the Soviet Union and Communist bloc countries in the 1960s.

Soviet teams were the first to have a massage therapist travel with them and work on their athletes on a regular and ongoing basis. 

  • Sports massage has three basic forms: pre-event massage, post-event massage, and maintenance massage.

  • Pre-event sports massage is done to help prevent serious athletic injury.

A pre-event massage stimulates the flow of blood and nutrients to the muscles, reduces muscle tension, loosens the muscles, and produces a feeling of psychological readiness.

  • Pre-event massage is given shortly before an athlete competes. 

It consists mainly of brisk effleurage to stimulate and warm the muscles and petrissage to help muscles move fluidly and to reduce muscle tension.

  •  Post-event sports massage helps reduce the swelling caused by microtraumas; loosens tired, stiff muscles; helps maintain flexibility; promotes blood flow to the muscle to remove lactic acid and waste build-up; and reduces cramping.

Post-event massage helps speed the athlete’s recovery time and alleviates pulls, strains, and soreness.

  • Post-event massage is usually given 1–2 hours after the competition is over in order to give dilated blood vessels a chance to return to their normal condition.

Post-event massage is light and gentle in order not to damage already stressed muscles.


  • Maintenance massage increases the flow of blood and nutrients to the muscles and also keeps the tissues loose so that different layers of muscle slide easily over each other.

Maintenance sports massage is done at least once a week as a regular part of athletic training programs, although professional athletes who have their own massage therapists may have maintenance massage daily. 

  • Effleurage is a light stroking that can be performed with the palms or the thumbs which increases blood flow to the muscle.

The pressure and speed is varied depending on the muscle and the desired result. 

  • Petrissage is a form of two-handed kneading in which both hands pick up the muscle and compress it.

This technique loosens tight bunches of muscles.

  •  Percussive strokes are blows or strikes on the muscle, often performed with the little fingers.

This technique is used to tone the muscles.

  •  Cupping involves percussing or striking the muscles with cupped hands. 

It stimulates the skin and causes muscle contractions that help tone the muscles.

  • Picking is a form of kneading where one hand is used to grasp, squeeze, and lift soft tissues whilst the other hand simultaneously supports the limb and holds it in place.

  • Wringing is similar to what it sounds like although a little less aggressive. During the wringing section of petrissage, the soft tissues are wrung in a side to side motion.

The movement begins with the hands on opposite sides, and they then change sides repeatedly whilst squeezing the tissues.

  • A deeper choice of the sports massage techniques within petrissage, rolling can actually be performed on the subcutaneous layer (which is the deepest layer of skin).

This is done by using the fingertips and thumbs to gently grip the skin, and then literally rolling the tissues between the fingers and thumbs across the target area or limb.

  •  Accredited sports massage therapists must first complete a course in general massage from a school accredited by the American Massage Therapy Association/Commission on Massage Training Accreditation/Approval (AMTA/COMTAA) or their State Board of Education.

They must then complete an additional training program approved by the AMTA National Sports Massage Certification Program. 

  •  Research studies regarding perceived fatigue and recovery showed that subjects felt they were less fatigued and felt like they recovered faster after sports massage. 

Decreased anxiety, improved mood, better sleep, and enhanced feelings of well-being were also noted.

  • Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is reduced by sports massage, according to a wide variety of studies.

  • Sports massage Is a form of clinical massage.

Sports massage falls under the clinical category whereas a relaxation massage, as its name implies, is more focused on relaxation and stress relief.

  • A clinical massage is a medical care delivered to a patient with treatment goals. 

Clinical massage is also increasingly being prescribed by doctors to complement traditional medical treatment of illness, injury and pain.

  •  During a sports massage, your therapist may use a variety of modalities such as remedial massage, myofascial trigger point therapy, lymphatic drainage and deep tissue work.

  •  Relaxation massage on the other hand, typically involves the application of gentle to medium pressure of the hands to the body.

  • A meta-analysis, which examined 29 studies, published  in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that massage sports massage specifically does not actually improve performance in terms of sprinting, jumping, strength, endurance, or fatigue.

  • Sports massage releases endorphins (‘happy’ and ‘pain killing’ hormones) from the pituitary gland.

These are known to relieve pain and the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

  • Tapotement describes the group of sports massage techniques that are a little rougher on the client in comparison to effleurage. These include hacking, cupping, pounding, and beating.

Tapotement is one of the most successful techniques in terms of providing the greatest benefits of sports massage, and is safe when performed by a fully qualified sports massage therapist.

  • Sports massage therapy can help facilitate and deepen sleep.

Sleep is an under addressed part of physical rehabilitation that is neglected far too often.

  • Another part of athletic recovery that is enhanced by sports massage therapy is the release and removal of toxins from the muscles.

When the muscles are engaged for long periods of time and the body is challenged, lactic acid can build up and toxins can begin to affect certain tissues. This lactic acid increase can create painful knots and uncomfortable binding throughout the body. 

  • Statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2014, found that 28% of sports injuries affect the knee and lower leg, 15% elbow and forearms, and 14% wrist and hands. 

  • Statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2014, A total of 49% of sports injuries were fractures, 23% soft tissue and 7% dislocation.

  • According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of massage therapists is expected to increase 22% from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov).

  • In 2018, almost half of massage therapists worked for themselves.

  • Sports massage therapists are employed at hospitals, chiropractors or private businesses.

  • According to the BLS, the median salary for massage therapists was $41,420 as of May 2018.

If you’re self-employed, your salary might vary based on your hours and fees.

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), physical therapists earned an average salary of $88,880 in 2018 (www.bls.gov). 

  • Employment in this field is expected to increase by 22% from 2018-2028, which the BLS noted might be due to insurance companies paying for individuals to receive more physical therapy services.

  • One of the biggest parts of being effective at sports massage is understanding the pressures that the body is put through during sports activities.

This course will help students to understand the rigors of various sporting activities, the common medical issues that athletes can face in their sport, and the best mechanics to treat these specific maladies.

  • According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of massage therapy in general shows exceptional strength  with 23 percent growth from 2012 to 2022 and over 30,000 additional professionals entering the field in that same period.

  • In 2018, the US massage therapy industry was worth $18 billion.

Massage industry statistics indicate a significant increase from projections in 2005 when the industry was projected to be worth around $6–$11 billion each year.

  • The global massage equipment market was worth $6.9 billion in 2018.

  • Massage chairs and sofas had the largest market share, accounting for over 50% of the massage industry.

  • North America was the dominating region, generating $2.8 billion in revenue. Moreover, the industry is projected to grow by $8.01 billion between 2019–2023.

  • In 2019, the average annual wage for massage therapists was $29,349.

Massage therapists charged an average of $75.23 per hour of massage in 2019. According to massage facts, this is a notable increase from $48.11 in 2016. 

  • Women dominate the massage therapy industry.

Massage therapy industry statistics indicate that about 88% of all massage therapists in the country are women.

  • Approximately 70% of American adults use massage therapy for health purposes.

A survey carried out between July 2018 and July 2019, revealed that most adults received a massage because of various health concerns, including pain and injuries. 

  • Early massage therapy traditions originated in India. 

Massage therapy in India dates back to 3000 BC or earlier. Hindus used a combination of meditation, relaxation, and aromatherapy known as Ayurveda to relieve pain, cure injuries, and prevent illnesses. 

  • Massage therapy was used in the United States during World War I.

According to the lesser-known massage facts, massage therapy was used to treat patients who suffered from nerve injury or shell shock during the war. 

  • Massage is an effective complementary treatment for cancer.

Studies show that massage therapy reduces cancer symptoms or the side effects of its treatments, such as pain and fatigue. Massages are also known to enhance the immune system. 

  • The first known Chinese massage text dates back to 2700 BC. 

The Chinese text known as the Yellow Emperor’s Classic Book of Internal Medicine documents the medical benefits of massage therapy. The Chinese used different types of massage therapy to rebalance energy levels and cure diseases. 

  • Buddhist Monks brought massage therapy to Japan in 1000 BC.

Early massage therapy—shiatsu—was introduced to Japan by Buddhist monks from China. Namely, shiatsu was developed to create a natural resistance to illnesses by regulating organ function. 

  • Greek athletes used massage therapy to condition their bodies.

Massage facts reveal that massage therapy became prominent in Greece between 800–700 BC. In the 5th century, Hippocrates used massage therapy to treat injuries using his technique called anatripsis, which translates to “friction.”

  •  Massage therapy gained immense popularity in the US in the 1980s.

Massage therapy was a part of the 1984 Olympics in Atlanta and was a major treatment for athletes. 

  • Sports massage prevents athlete injuries before and after an athlete competes.

Sports massage involves the application of pressure to targeted muscles and connective tissues within the body. It includes stretching movements that improve flexibility, aid healing, and prevent injuries. 

  • The global massage oil market is projected to register a CAGR of 5% between 2020–2030.

This market is led by spa and wellness centers, contributing 54% to the global massage oil revenue. Europe remains the global, regional leader, holding over 35% of the market share.

  • The US massage services industry is worth $15.8 billion.

The US massage services industry grew at a CAGR of 2.8% between 2015–2020. The industry is likely to see a 1.5% growth by the end of 2020. 

  • Between 2014–2018, the revenue from the US complementary health providers increased by 3.6%.

Massage facts and statistics reveal that the revenue from complementary health providers, including massage therapists, is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 1.9% between 2019–2024. 

  • Massage Envy is the largest massage franchise in the US.

Massage Envy has over 1,150 locations in 49 US states, with about 1.65 million members. The franchise generated a revenue of about $730 billion between 2007–2018.

  • Massage facts reveal that Zeel is the leading on-demand massage company in the United States. 

Zeel changed the face of the massage industry by becoming the first company to offer same-day, in-home massages to clients. Zeel is located in more than 65 US cities and boasts over 6,000 licensed massage therapists. 

  • There are approximately 385,000 massage therapists and massage school students in the country. 

According to the recent massage statistics, the industry’s employment rate increased by 2.7% between 2014–2018. It is projected to increase by 22% between 2018–2028. 

  • Roughly 76% of massage therapists are sole practitioners.

  • Approximately 56% of massage therapists work at their client’s homes, 45% work in their office, 29% in their homes, 25% in a healthcare environment, and 24% provide massage services at a spa.

  • Massage therapists are mostly middle-aged, and only 22% of them are younger than 35.

  • In 2019, the average massage therapist worked 26.6 hours a week.

While massage therapists in 2018 worked the same hours, this increased from 24.2 hours per week in 2017. 

  • Approximately 48 million adults attended at least one massage session between July 2018 and July 2019. 

  • Stats indicate that about 21% of adults in the United States had at least one massage between July 2018 and July 2019.

  • On average, 32% of adults in the country have received a massage in the last five years.

  • A 2019 survey revealed that 24% of American women had received a massage in the past year.

Massage therapy statistics indicate that women are more likely to receive massage than men. According to the survey, only 16% of men received a massage in the previous year. 

  • About 42% received messages to treat soreness and spasms. 

  • In 2019, 33% of consumers received a massage in a spa.

  • According to the recent massage statistics, around 38% of consumers had a massage in the therapist’s office.

  • Moreover, approximately 19% got a massage in a hotel or their home, and 16% enjoyed it in a chiropractor’s office.

  • According to a 2019 survey from AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association), approximately 43 million American adults had discussed massage therapy with their doctors in 2018.

  • The average age of a massage therapist in the United States is 40.9 years.

Most massage therapists enter the massage therapy profession as a second career. 

  • Sports massage training programs generally involve 700 or more hours of combined classroom and hands-on clinical practice.

On average, students can complete their training in about 12 months.

  • Tuition for sports massage training ranges from $10,000 to $15,000.

Sports massage training at community colleges might cost a little less, and private massage schools might cost a little more.

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) current Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of massage-related occupation, like sports massage therapy, will grow at much faster than average rate. 

The country’s ongoing interest in health and fitness, and in massage as a means to achieving flexibility and reducing stress, will play a significant role in the career outlook for sports massage therapists over the coming decade.

  • Sports Massage can be one session or several but should be goal related.

Many people who would treat themselves to a massage would have short term benefits of relaxation and wellbeing, however, sports massage provides more goal related targets depending on the area being treated and the severity of the condition.

  • Sports massage requires specific knowledge and skills of various modalities.

While relaxation massages are typically limited to applying varying levels of pressure on the body to calm the muscles, sports massage involves a more targeted approach that includes techniques and technology.

  • Sports massage is different from typical relaxation massage.

Massages are classified into two different categories: clinical and non-clinical. Relaxation massage, which is geared towards stress relief and overall wellness, is non-clinical, while sports massage falls under the clinical category.

  • Unlike other forms of massage, sports massage incorporates what is known as ‘myofascial’. 

This is a technique that is used to identify pain in the body —more specifically, where pain may be radiating from an exact point in the affected muscle.

  • Sports massage therapists are required to be especially knowledgeable about the anatomy of the body in order for a sports massage to work.

Sports massages are effective because sports massage therapists are required to have an in-depth understanding of the anatomy of the body.

  • The benefits of the pre-event massage do not have to be directly before the event, or even on the day of the event. 

It can be a helpful “warm up” as early as seven days prior to exertion.

  • Pre-event massages are often accompanied by post-event sports massages. 

Veterans can jump right into these sessions after a few hours. Like their pre-event equivalents, a good recovery-focused massage can still work wonders for recovery days after an event.

  • During that ill-fated 2018 World Cup semi-final, after a full ninety minutes of play and before extra time, the England team coaching staff scrambled to apply sports massage therapy to their players.

During an exercise, this form of sports massage therapy is often referred to as maintenance massage.

  • The word ‘massage’ is derived from the Greek word meaning “to work with the hands, as in kneading dough”. 

Massage treatment in Ancient Greece probably originated at around 800 BC. In the fifth century BC Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine, prescribed “friction” and the benefits of rubbing the body as a means to treat physical injuries.

  • Sports massage therapy was quietly refined in Finland in the early twentieth century, originating from the Swedish massage system, in the Finnish School of Massage.

  • The first educational institution to offer a course on massage was the Royal Gymnastic Swedish Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, which added it to their curriculum in 1813.

  • It is normal to feel some discomfort 24-48hours after a Sports Massage, this is because muscles fibres have been lengthened and stretched, any scar tissue has been broken down and your muscles are starting to recover.a

  • Sports Massages are a specifically tailored treatment designed to reduce pain, improve flexibility and increase range of motion.

  • In 1985, the National Sports Massage Team was created by the American Massage Therapy Association.

This team will provide massages for Boston Marathon runners. And although this team does not exist already, sports massage is still considered a special massage therapy.

  • On average, a triathlete should get one massage per week or a minimum of one per month.

That may seem extreme, particularly if a trip to the spa is more of an indulgence for you. But, massages go a long way to help prevent injury.

  • Sports Massage can help decrease stress and increase focus, putting you in a good psychological state before your next race.

  • Many states require sports massage therapists to be certified by industry recognized organizations like the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).

This organization provides comprehensive certification and training programs that combine extensive theory with valuable hands on learning opportunities.

  • Licensed massage therapists earned an annual median salary of $40,400 in 2012 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

salaries improved depending on the organization supported and the job’s geographic location.

  • The field of Sports Massage Therapy offers many positives, including an above-average median salary of $82,000 as of 2014.

  • Sports massage has been used for centuries to enhance the performance of competitive athletes.

Although many of the techniques in sports massage are utilized in other forms of massages, sports massage is key specific to individualized needs.

  • Sports massage is safe and effective. When given correctly, there are no undesirable side effects.

  • A sports massage can be done as a full-body massage or the massage therapist may focus on the parts of the body that need the most attention.

Deep pressure may be alternated with soothing strokes depending on your needs.

  • You can have a sports massage while clothed or naked.

If you prefer to wear clothing, make sure it’s thin, loose, and allows the therapist access to your muscles. Loose shorts and a tank top are options.

Are You in Need of Manual Therapy for Your Pain?

Manual therapies from Schemata Bodywork helps people who are active or desire to be active. Who can benefit from a sports massage from Schemata Bodywork? Individuals who have careers that are restricted to working at a desk, all athletes that are looking to improve their performance or physical gains, people who have community service jobs such as firefighters, law enforcement, or military personnel. If you are suffering from injuries with acute or chronic pain, or someone who wants relief from mental or physical stress, we can help change your life. Contact us now for your appointment.