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Chair Massage on the Rise

A study done by the American Institute of Stress has shown that job-related stress and economical anxiety are costing companies an estimated $300 billion or more, roughly $7,500 per worker per year. Stress has been named the number one cause of disability in and out of the workplace, and many employers are spending money covering the lost productivity and health care fees.

Luckily, most companies, big and small, are becoming more receptive to the problems that work-related stress creates. Tension in the workplace is almost unavoidable due to a rise in workplace expectations, which is a direct result of an unstable economy. Physical stress in most business environments is also an issue. Sitting at a computer all day long is often harder on the body than physical labor. Being planted in one position that is not conducive to our natural postural alignment causes havoc on our bodies, namely our upper back and neck. 

Employees in today's economy are holding on to their jobs for dear life and are willing to do almost anything to stay ahead of the game, including sacrificing their own wellness.  Sadly, the more stress employees consume by overextending themselves, the more likely their professional efficiency will plunge. Fortunately, most employers who are concerned about the quality of work their staff is doing are increasingly open to the benefits of stress reduction techniques during work hours.

The most popular form of stress reduction making its way into the workplace is on-site chair massage. Chair massage in general has become a fast, inexpensive remedy for a world on the go. Many companies such as law firms, car dealerships, realty firms, insurance companies, hospitals, and many other businesses are hiring contractors to perform chair massages as an incentive to their employees. Here in Chicago, businesses such as United Airlines, Federal Reserve Bank and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois have hired one company in particular called "Hired Hands," on-site massage specialists, to provide chair massage services to their staffs.

On-site massage specialists provide their own training to contractors working for them. A co-owner of "Hired Hands," Christine Ramsey says, "Most massage schools do not spend enough time on chair massage." Since the main focus of chair massage is on the back, neck and head, it is important to be completely proficient in those areas. Although therapists working through "Hired Hands" are considered independent contractors, they enjoy the luxury of consistent schedules and a guaranteed hourly pay. The good news for aspiring massage therapists is that the need for this type of massage work is increasing and companies such as this one are almost always hiring licensed and insured massage therapists. 

Chair massage as a methodic technique has been around for quite a while. Although David Palmer created and designed the first massage chair in the 1980s, the technique has been traced all the way back to ancient Japan. Block prints showed people being massaged while seated on what appeared to be stools.

David Palmer is really the driving force behind contemporary chair massage, however, and received that title rightfully after bringing chair massage into the public eye when he began massaging Apple computer employees in 1984.

In 1998, Palmer wrote in Positive Health magazine how he believed chair massage would eventually become more popular than table massage. He thought that in order to bring massage therapy into the mainstream, it would need to be completely accessible at all times to anyone and everyone. The idea that a person can experience the positive effects of massage in a matter of minutes, sitting in a chair and fully clothed is a very attractive and practical idea.

"Touch is the orphan sense in our culture," Palmer says. "It's the one sense we've disowned most, and it's time for us to reclaim it. It's the first sense we have in the womb and likely the last sense we experience when we die. Yet, we live in a culture that numbs us from the neck down. When we reclaim that, it will be revolutionary. If we got all the touch we wanted (or needed), 75% of mental health problems would go away tomorrow," he says. "It would change the individual, it would change their relationships, and it would change the institutions in which they live, work and play."

Palmer explained chair massage best when he wrote, "The beauty of chair massage is its simple message - that massage can make you feel better, whatever that means to you, any time you want. You don't have to be sick or enlightened or wealthy to appreciate its benefits. It's truly massage for the masses." 

Being skilled in chair massage can open up many employment doors for you as a massage therapist. Since the massage chair is portable and not as heavy as a table, you have increased mobility with your business and a better chance at marketing yourself. As a chair massage practitioner, you also have the choice of working completely for yourself or working with companies like "Hired Hands."

At National University of Health Sciences, chair massage is a required part of the curriculum, and you will also spend intern hours and outcall hours practicing your chair massage skills. For more information on training in chair massage, call 1-800-826-6285.

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