I am asked on a regular basis “how often should I get a massage?” my answer …” depends”…not very concise but it really does depend.
What is your issue? How long have you had this pain? What are your goals? How compliant will you be with self-care? Are you willing to make some lifestyle changes to achieve your goals?
First question: What is your issue? Are you a ball of stress? Do you have a very high-pressure life that is not slowing down anytime soon? Are you highly anxious or suffering from depression?
Answer: 2 times per week and weekly sessions have been shown to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
What if your issue is pain? Is the pain acute or chronic? For acute pain, I always advise seeing a physician first, especially if it is injury related. Chronic pain can vary. It may sound like a cop-out but it really does vary. It goes back to earlier questions: What are your goals? How compliant will you be with self-care? Are you willing to make some lifestyle changes to achieve your goals? and the big question: How long have you had this pain?
The longer you have had the pain the longer the musculature is tight the more entrenched the nervous system is in holding this pattern of tightness. The more fascial adhesions within the tissue. The longer you have the chronic pain the more your body has shifted those physical stresses causing compensation patterns. Or in layman terms the longer you have pain the more it messes up your body everywhere.
Keeping all that in mind it is going to take time to undo what is done, it did not get that way overnight and it won’t be fixed with 1 or 2 treatments. Massage is similar to diet, exercise, and learning a new sport. It takes time, lifestyle changes and practice.
With all that said I recommend for those with chronic pain, you start off 2 times a week, working towards a weekly massage then bi-weekly. The more frequent the massages the better the body holds on to the changes and the greater time you will have with reduced or no pain. If the treatment is spaced out too far the body will go back to previously held positions and you will feel like the treatment did no good at all.
If you are consistent with frequent treatment and recommended lifestyle changes (stretches, exercises, changes in ergonomics, meditation practice) you will see pain reduction sooner and have it last much longer than if you space the treatments too far apart.
So what if you do not have chronic pain and live a relatively stress-free life? My question to you is…….where did you come from and is the mothership really cool? Seriously.
I recommend monthly bodywork as preventative care (even if you are an alien). It is a great way to check in with your body and create the body awareness that helps you keep in tune.
2 times a week to weekly: You are suffering from chronic pain such as regular or constant headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic back pain, etc. You have a very high-stress life, suffer from anxiety or depression.
Bi-Weekly: You suffer from chronic pain, and maintain improvements after each session for longer than 7 days. Discomfort returns 10-12 days following appointment.
Monthly: Maintenance massage is when one experiences body aches occasionally, with 1-2 “troubled” areas. These sessions are vital in preventing further injury and any regression.