Massage Therapy is a fantastic aspect of integrative health that provides pain relief, along with a host of other physical and emotional benefits to patients.
It serves as a fantastic complementary add-on service for conventional or integrative health services, or as a standalone practice.
Massage Therapy as a Business
In the United States, a massage therapist must fulfill a minimum educational requirement of study in kinesiology, pathology, theory, and hands-on contact hours. There are more than 300,000 massage therapists in the US, with 300 accredited schools. (Source: American Massage Therapy Association)
Nearly every state in the US require a license to practice. This includes 43 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Some also require a background check and CPR certification. (Source: Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals)
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the job outlook for Massage Therapists is growing much faster than average, with an expected need of 42,100 more trained professionals by 2026. (Source: BLS.gov)
Niche Ideas for a Massage Therapist Practice
Most licensed massage therapists are trained in a variety of techniques. They apply different amounts of pressure on muscles and joints in order to
- relieve pain and tension,
- increase blood flow,
- reduce anxiety,
- improve muscle performance and flexibility, and
- reduce the risk of injury.
There are many ways to niche your practice as a Massage Therapist.
For example, you could specialize in a single type of massage. The most common types of massage is Swedish Massage, which involves full-body kneading while undressed. But there are many other methods available to LMTs including:
- Aromatherapy Massage
- Chair Massage
- Couple’s Massage
- Craniosacral Massage
- Deep Tissue Massage
- Digestive Massage
- Fertility Massage
- Foot Massage
- Hot Lava Shell Message
- Hot Stone Massage
- Integrative Structural Massage Therapy
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage
- Myofascial Release
- Prenatal Massage
- Reflexology Massage
- Shiatsu Massage
- Somatoemotional Release
- Sport Massage
- Swedish Massage
- Thai Herbal Ball Compression
- Thai Massage
- Trigger Point Massage
- Warm Bamboo Massage
(Sources: Healthline, Awaken Wellness, Traditional Thai Massage & Wellness, and Paths in Healing)
Other options for specializing as a Massage Therapist include limiting your scope of practice to a certain demographic or patient type (for example, adults with seasonal allergies, retirees who play golf, or children with ADHD). By selecting a combination of factors, you can communicate with patients in a very specific and unique way, rather than offering to treat “anyone with any condition.”
Designing a Triple Niche
The most effective niche practices combine several elements. Instead of narrowing just your geographic location or patient age, you could pick several “layers” and narrow the focus of your work even further.
A Triple Niche can set your practice apart from competitors and attract Ideal Patients.
To do this, consider limiting your focus to:
- a target demographic such as geography, age, occupation, or interest;
- the patient’s goal such as pain relief, flexibility, or strength building;
- a treatment method; or
- a body area such as neck, jaw, shoulders, lumbar spine, IT band, or ankles.
You could narrow your focus by choosing a combination of
- a delivery method (like mobile service, house calls, or DIY options),
- attributes that occur often among Ideal Patients (such as home ownership, occupation, or ages and number of children), and/or
- an interest that is common among your Ideal Patients (such as hiking, horseback riding, frequent travel, gardening, or volunteer work).
Examples of Niche Massage Therapists
Here are three practitioners who have selected a very specialized area of massage therapy.
Niche Focus 1: Thai Massage for Athletes with Chronic Tension
Thai Massage is done fully clothed while lying on a mat (rather than with minimal clothing on a table or in a chair).
It includes full-body yoga-like stretching with firm pressure, twisting, and positioning. The patient benefits from added flexibility, increased circulation, and muscular strength. It is also referred to as Thai Yoga Massage.
Beth Petersen, LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist)
Name of Practice
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, United States
About This Niche
Beth is licensed to practice a number of massage modalities; however her business exclusively offers Thai massage. Her primary clients are athletes and adults who experience muscular tension.
Beth is a Pain/Sports Recovery Specialist. Her massage techniques combine deep compressions, mobilization, and lengthening techniques to relieve tightness, pain, tension, inflexibility, and muscle fatigue.
- 90 Minute Bodywork
- 120 Minute Bodywork
- Thai Massage Jam community event and training
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Here is a video that shows Thai Massage performed by Beth’s associate Robin Johnson, taken at a conference in Austin, Texas:
Niche Focus 2: Integrative Neurosomatic Therapy (INT) for Posture Correction and Pain Relief
Tim Janak Jr. LMT, COMT, NST, HLC, MTI
Tim’s credentials include:
- Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT),
- Certified Orthopedic Massage Therapist (COMT),
- Integrative Neurosomatic Therapist (NST),
- Holistic Lifestyle Coach level 3 (HLC), and
- Massage Therapy Instructor (MTI)
Name of Practice
Houston, Texas, United States
About This Niche
While not a traditional massage-related modality, Integrative Neurosomatic Therapy provides relief by helping the patient to identify and correct structural and biomechanical patterns that cause chronic pain. It involves problem-solving, looking for clues within the body, and analyzing neuromuscular patterns to find the source of dysregulation.
Tim combines his massage skills with specialized training in orthopedic massage and Intregrative Neeurosomatic therapy, coaching, and Massage Therapy instruction.
Tim focuses primarily on two services:
- Integrated Structural Therapy
- Sound & Vibration Therapy
Here is a video in which Tim explains ankle mobility for a better squat position.
Niche Focus 3: Intraoral and TMJ Massage
Inraoral massage (meaning inside the mouth) focuses on muscles in the neck, face, scalp, jaw, lips, and internal mouth areas.
It is especially useful for Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders and can relieve headaches, clenching, and teeth grinding.
Caroline Brady LMT, RDH
Caroline has the following credentials:
- Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT)
- Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH)
- Certified in Neuromuscular Therapy specializing in TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction)
Name of Practice
Seattle, Washington, United States
About This Niche
Caroline is a leading TMJ Massage expert in Seattle, with the distinction of being one of the first healthcare practitioners in Washington state to offer neuromuscular TMJ massage.
She is both a licensed massage therapist and a registered dental hygienist.
- TMJ / Headache Therapy
- Maintenance Package (3 follow-up sessions)
Here is a video demonstrating acupressure points for TMJ relief by Heather Wibbels, LMT of Massage By Heather.
As you can see, there are a variety of ways to take a field such as Massage Therapy, which sounds fairly specific already, and create a distinct niche area that can attract Ideal Patients and set you apart from competitors.
If you want to develop a marketing niche for your practice or business, let’s talk! Find out more here.
Grace LaConte is a business consultant, writer, workplace equity strategist, and the founder of LaConte Consulting. Her risk management tools are used around the globe, and she has successfully reversed toxic work environments for clients in the healthcare and non-profit fields. Grace specializes in lactation law compliance & policy development, reducing staff turnover after maternity leave, and creating a participatory work culture.
Find more at laconteconsulting.com, or connect with her on Instagram and Twitter @lacontestrategy.