How Often Should You Receive a Massage?

A common question asked is “How often should I receive a massage?” There is no generic answer to that.  I give some general information below, but work with your therapist to devise a plan. Remember that the main benefit of the massage club is that you receive a reduced rate on ALL your massages, not just one a month.

Maintenance: 
Maintenance is how often you should return for massage to maintain how you feel from one visit to the next.  How often you come in for maintenance will depend on factors like how much stress you have in your life and how your job, hobbies and habits affect you physically, not to mention how you sleep, how you walk, your posture, and sooooo many more things that vary from person to person that we can’t possibly predict what YOUR maintenance interval should be.

Pay attention to your body and make an appointment when you begin to feel the tension or pain return.  If you begin to feel that pain returning 2 weeks after your last appointment, make a few appointments 2 weeks apart, then begin to space them out longer, paying attention to when the pain returns.

Maintenance or Make Progress?
Are you asking yourself, “Why would I want to maintain my pain?”  That’s a good question, and the majority of people don’t receive massage often enough to make progress on issues that have built up or gotten worse over a long period of time.  One reason is that massage isn’t cheap and isn’t covered under most insurance plans.  Another reason is that Massage Therapists are notorious for NOT being pushy sales people.  When you tell someone they need to come in twice a week, the usual response is “I wish.” After hearing that enough, some LMTs will stop suggesting it, either from guilt or just giving up.  I personally tend to feel guilty if I keep suggesting it, so I give a list of things clients can do at home to maintain the benefit of a massage, but the reality is that because they don’t do it, they’d be better off coming up with a way to come in more often.

Make Progress:
When you are dealing with a long term issue, there could be many reasons the benefit from a single massage doesn’t stick.  Some reasons are: (1) Returning to habits that contribute to the cause of your pain (2)  You have developed “muscle memory” and your body thinks that tension is now normal, and returns to it. (3) Your body has tried to protect the strained/damaged tissue by doing things like tightening the muscle fibers around it to isolate it or changing your gait or posture, which causes strain in those muscles because they are being used in an unaccustomed way. Tension and pain causes compensation, which causes more tension and pain, which causes more compensation and more tension and pain. You can stub your toe and six months later have a stiff neck, all beginning with a stubbed toe you have forgotten all about. This “compensation pattern” is not a quick fix.  You come in complaining of a stiff neck, and we work on it and it feels better, but your new gait (muscle memory) is still causing your hip to tilt, which causes your back to adjust so you are upright, which is still causing a shift in your shoulders, and then your neck, and thus a return of your stiff neck.

The key to making progress on a long term issue is working on your perceived pain and, before it returns, expanding our work. I usually tell clients that if they want to be aggressive, they should come in twice a week.  If they don’t want to be that aggressive, then once a week and use self-care at home so they don’t lose the benefit of my massage between sessions.  We can’t make progress if you are back to where you started when you come back in.

This is just me giving generalized information.  Work with your therapist to make a plan.

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