This is a bigger topic than you may realize.
My life changed when I asked this question to a practitioner who responded, “I believe you know your body best.” He was both right and wrong.
I am a practitioner who works with wellness. That means that I work with people who use massage on a regular basis to improve their quality of life. It means that I see massage as being most effective as a support to your overall health and wellness in preventing injury and living a full life and this for me is the sweet spot of where I work.
What does that mean in relation to how often you should come for massage?
It means that you should include massage as a regular part of your health care.
In my thirteen years of practice I have witnessed the shift of massage to focus more and more on pain and pain management. It’s a great place to start and pain is often an initiating factor in people seeking bodywork. However, pain is not the only reason to get massage and I think that is getting lost.
Massage has the capacity to offer many benefits besides pain relief and alleviation of physical tension. It helps to temporarily lower blood pressure, it increases relaxation, can help you sleep better, it can help you function better doing the things you need and love to do, and my favorite, it can help you to become more aware and ideally accepting of your body.
One of the things that I think is really important to consider when deciding how often to receive massage is how much variety in movement do you experience in your day to day life? If you sit at a computer all day and walk on a treadmill for exercise, you likely do not experience a great deal of variety in your movement and your positioning. You need massage.
If you are active in an activity that does the same postures or movements over and over again; think driving, golfing, archery, crafting, sewing, holding a child on the same hip, you could benefit from massage to balance out the effects of the activity you do on your body.
If you have areas of your body that are in distress, as in you are experiencing pain and/or tension, there is a good rule of thumb to come more regularly. Typically you want to come in before you hurt again. By returning before pain returns or gets as bad as it was, you start to break the cycle of pain. For some that might mean twice a week, or once a week. As you improve, you can start to increase the distance between sessions. This will likely require movement, stretching and/or self-treatment to do between sessions.
You might also consider how often you receive touch. We live in a world that is becoming less and less touch friendly and touch is very important. Studies are showing that people who are touch deprived tend to be less happy, more prone to depression and stress, and in general can have greater health issues.
On average, my clients discover that regular massage anywhere from weekly to every six weeks helps them to counteract the effects of their lifestyle, helps them to reorient to their body, increases their overall sense of well-being, improves relaxation, and gives them the support they need to engage in the activities they enjoy while remaining relatively pain and tension free. The typical average is between three and four weeks.
If you only get massage a few times a year, that’s great, but it could be better. A few times a year, is more like getting a treat and less about wellness and prevention.
So, ultimately, my approach is a more collaborative one where I hold the space that ultimately you have the capacity to know your body best and your body knows how much massage can aid in your ongoing wellness.
One approach that I would encourage would be to go direct and ask your body.
- Sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, close your eyes, settle within.
- First, say hello to your body. Thank it for supporting you in your life’s journey.
- Ask; what do you need to feel supported? Would you like massage?
It might take awhile, and it might be hard to detect at first, but your body will let you know. It might be a knowing, you might hear it, maybe you will see yourself being massaged. The parts of your body that need attention might just ache more, or feel tight. That is your body speaking to you. Listen and follow through. It can be that simple.