Here’s a frequently asked question: How often should I get massage? The simplest answer is, “as often as your budget allows.” Any massage is better than no massage, but is “once in a while” enough?
If you don’t have any specific goals in mind, absolutely. A monthly massage can be an excellent adjunct to your fitness and wellness routine, keeping you attuned to your body and helping you stay ahead of developing tightness or pain. It can keep you loose for the gym, and it can help you stay aware of your posture as you go through your work day. It’s a good way of offering some self-directed kindness and having scheduled me-time.
If, however, you’ve got persistent pain, or if you’d like to push back against a problem that has taken a long time to develop (posture-related pain, nerve dysfunction, low mood), then a more aggressive treatment regimen is a good idea. Most research on massage uses one session per week, usually for a duration of 12 weeks. When I talk about studies demonstrating benefits for physical and mental disorders, I’m talking about participants who are receiving frequent massage.
There’s a reason for this: Massage doesn’t often produce its results from any single session. Instead, it’s a process of repeatedly interacting with the body in a way that soothes it, and that helps it realize that it doesn’t need so much tension and guarding. That can take time.
The good news is that I’ve seen excellent results from bi-weekly massage. If you’ve got pain or dysfunction that could use some relief, two massages per month will likely do you some good. I’ve seen people have reduced low back pain, headache, TMJ dysfunction, and running-related pain by using this frequency.
That said, there are some circumstances where I do recommend weekly massage. If you’ve got frozen shoulder, it can help immensely to have someone challenge your range of motion and soothe your nervous system once per week until symptoms abate. If you’ve got extreme low back pain, a month of weekly massage might be enough to break that cycle of spasm and inflammation that keeps it going.
Needless to say, I’m a big believer in massage. I think that, applied properly, it can make significant changes in people’s lives. It is a dose-dependent therapy, however, so the amount of massage that you receive makes a difference. Some massage is better than none, but I do invite you to explore a higher frequency when it’s warranted.
I’ll be happy to discuss this with you based on your personal goals and I’d also be happy to show you ways that you can implement some self-massage between sessions!