How Often Should You Get a Massage?
Every day! Well, maybe that’s not practical, even though it would be nice. This is one of the most common questions clients ask about massage therapy, and it really all depends on WHY you get massages.
But first: A few other things to consider:
How long did it take you to get into your current condition? (constant bad posture over 20 years or just slept wrong last weekend?)
Are you still doing that thing that got you in this condition? (examples: You’ve constantly lifted people as a nurse for years, but now you’re retired. Or: You’ve had a desk job for years, but you’ve still got a few years to go!)
In general, if it took you years to develop a particular problem, I hate to say it, but we can’t fix it all in an hour. One massage is also not going to prevent the neck stiffness from years of staring at your phone. Since everybody recovers at a different rate, we usually recommend to start with sessions more often and space them out more as time goes by.
And let’s face it, it IS also a time and budget issue. It’s missing the point if you need a massage to relax, but then you need to shorten your sleep or get stressed trying to find a babysitter for that time. So all of the recommendations and times given here need to be adjusted to everyone’s reality.
So, is a one-time massage completely pointless?
Absolutely not! You should do what you can, and a single session is still better than nothing. And if you just want to relax or pamper yourself for a special occasion or after a big project, or you overdid it that one time at the gym, or camping last weekend gave you a terrible backache… yes, a single session can make a world of a difference.
But if you have chronic pain and want to help avoid getting to the point where you need a surgery, keep your migraines under control, or you keep doing the same things that are hurting you over and over… you definitely should consider getting on a regular schedule. Talk with your therapist about what intervals would be best for your exact situation, keeping in mind both your physical condition AND overall life situation.
To benefit from all the advantages of regular massages, like
Improved circulation, blood pressure, muscle texture and flexibility, digestion
Decreased anxiety, pain and muscle tension
A normalizing effect on the autonomic nervous system and hormone production
healthier fascia, strengthening of the immune system, better skin
once a month is usually considered the minimum. Less than that is still beneficial, but all those benefits listed above build up over time and won’t last more than a few weeks after a session.
Did that answer the question? 😉
If that is still too abstract and vague, here’s another, more concrete breakdown for different reasons WHY you get massages in the first place.
Do you get massages for health benefits? Or, to help you relax and handle the stress of everyday life? Most likely it’s a combination of the two, so let’s look at some of the most common reasons to get regular massages:
Relaxation & Stress Relief
One of the very best reasons to get a massage is for relaxation. Relaxation massage helps to support your body, including blood circulation and flexibility of joints. Regular massage can help prevent pain, muscle tension, and stress points from building up and causing problems. Relaxation massage is usually recommended at least once per month, or as often as you want!
There may be times in your life where you experience higher levels of stress and more muscle tension than normal. It is especially important to practice good self-care during these times. When we “don’t have time” for a massage, is usually when we need one the most. Make yourself a priority even during stressful times, your health is worth it.
If you are in a high-stress job or you work in an environment where you stay in a certain position for a long period of time (at a computer for example), you may begin to develop tight or “knotted” muscles. This will frequently occur in your shoulders, arms, and back. All of this increased muscle tension will make movement harder and can cause a great deal of pain. Regular massage can help to keep you loosened up and will help to prevent pain and stiffness.
Living with high levels of stress for a prolonged amount of time increases the risk of contracting heart disease and other diseases. It has been estimated that 75 – 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems. The good news is, massage can help! Just knowing your massage is coming up in a few days can help to relieve stress, and a massage every 3-4 weeks will help with stress related tension and muscle knots.
Are you a weekend warrior, or do you just like to stay in shape? Either way, massage can help with sports performance and recovery. Many athletes and physically active people receive sports massage because it enhances their performance, prevents injury, and speeds up their muscles' recovery. Competitive sports can put a lot of stress on a person's muscles! Research conducted at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging at McMaster University in Ontario shows that massage reduces inflammation and stimulates the growth of new mitochondria, the energy-producing units in the cells, after strenuous exercise. This means that massage can help relieve pain, build muscles and help with muscle recovery too! For these benefits it is recommended that you get a massage up to three times a week (for REALLY competitive athletes) or at least 2 times a month.
Chronic Health Conditions
People with ongoing health issues often find massage very helpful to alleviate symptoms. Chronic health problems that greatly benefit from massage therapy include back pain, joint pain, and localized inflammation. If you get therapy for specific issues, the frequency of getting massage therapy varies with the type of condition you have and how severe it is. Relief from pain can usually be achieved with 2-4 massage sessions per month. Your massage therapist will work with you to help you get on the best schedule for your body.
Pregnant women can greatly benefit from massage therapy! Prenatal massage is popular among expectant mothers, who often experience a lot of aches and pains as their pregnancy progresses. Many women suffer from back pain, hip & sciatic pain, headaches, and tired legs & feet.
But you don’t have to; going to your massage therapist once or twice a month can help with the symptoms caused by pregnancy, and it can even help you sleep better. Of course, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor and your massage therapist to ensure that you don’t have any pregnancy related conditions that would contraindicate massage therapy for you. Most women experiencing a healthy pregnancy can and should enjoy regular massage sessions.
**Note: Massage should not be construed as a substitute for medical examination, diagnosis, or treatment, so when in doubt, talk to your physician!