I was very surprised in school to learn that the extremely affluent comedian and actor Bob Hope used a portion of his riches to get a massage every single day – sometimes more than once a day! It was a part of his healthy lifestyle, just the way someone might consider walking or lifting weights, and he gracefully lived to be 100 years old.
Obviously, few of us in our present lives have the time or money to duplicate this routine—or at the very least, we won’t, because massage simply isn’t yet seen as an equivalent factor among the available choices when it comes to our longevity. Diet, exercise, and moderation comprise the “wellness trifecta.”
Even as a massage therapist who is educated and who wholeheartedly champions the benefits of massage, I wouldn’t sit here and try to peddle the “daily” ideal; as public beliefs stand currently, I’d likely be seen as a bit of a loon if I did.
In fact, it became clear to me before I even graduated that the general understanding and acceptance of massage alone has a long way to go in our culture. Whereas some people’s eyes flicker with a spark of opportunity when I tell them I’m a massage therapist, other responses range from confusion to discomfort.
Ironically, however, many of us—including aforementioned massage-averse folks—spend horrifying amounts of our money, time, and emotional reserves on potential fitness shortcuts we’re sold (e.g. diet pills and waist shapers), or even on tried and true assets, like gym memberships and workout equipment.
On top of all these wasted “investments for our health,” many people experiment with things like nerve blocking shots and pain pills for conditions that massage therapy can help treat and alleviate.
Sadly, a large majority of people just don’t know about or think of massage as an option, and they’re desperate to get out of their chronic pain in any way possible (which is understandable!). Whatever the doctor suggests, they’ll do.
My hope is that massage will one day be seen for all it provides, especially in our incredibly sedentary society, and I think we’re making strides in the right direction. It’s exciting to see athletes from Michael Phelps to Cristiano Ronaldo openly advocating for massage therapy and even getting involved in the community.
Until massage sees its day in the sun, however, I’ve had to figure out how to best answer a common client question: “How often should I get a massage?”
The most direct answer is: as often as you can afford—in whatever ways you have to consider. The long answer is a bit trickier.
The first factor I consider is the current state of your body. Without a bit of an introduction to you and your body, I’d largely be guessing at the right schedule for your needs. Thankfully for me, this question is typically posed during or after a massage, which works out!
I like to take into account physical and mental health, as massage can greatly improve/benefit both. If someone is wildly stressed, going through a big transition, or grieving, I would typically recommend them a session plan akin to what I would suggest for someone who is looking to make a real change in their longtime chronic pain pattern.
In either case, the cause of the bodily dysfunction and pain is different, and those symptoms may present very differently, but they both call for a more thorough approach. For each of these situations, weekly massages are preferable for true improvement.
Just as we wouldn’t expect to be able to think about our problems for 60 or 90 minutes one day, magically make them disappear forever, and return to our regular routines spit-spot, getting a single massage every so often doesn’t allow your body a fighting chance towards lasting change and healing.
Weekly—or more often, if possible—massages ensure that your body won’t have too much time between sessions to reverse the accomplished work, especially if you’ll be subjected to/participating in the same conditions that caused the issue(s) in the first place. This goes for your brain and central nervous system as much as it does your muscle fibers and tissues.
The body hurts and heals as a whole.
Beyond these more intensive conditions, you may fall into the category that encompasses wide-ranging aches and pains, poor posture, long hours at a desk, feeling wound up, needing an opportunity to be alone in the quiet, or perhaps even soreness from exercising.
This overarching group is where I’d say most of us normally reside. For these common mental and physical stressors, I might suggest getting a massage every two weeks, every three weeks, or once a month, depending on the way your body is handling your burdens, as well as how it is responding to massage.
For those lucky souls who manage to stay happy, healthy, and relatively stress-free, once a month “maintenance” massages tend to be the preference, as far as I can tell. In my professional opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that decision – though I’ll never turn down as many massages as I can get, myself, even when I hit that peak some day!
About the author: Muscle Memory Massage
I'm so excited to be here in Cahaba Heights, supporting our community with relaxation, stress relief, and pain mitigation. I love it here, and I hope you'll love me being here, as well!
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