Regular massage improves functional movement: So How Often Should I get a Massage?
Meghan Krupka, LMT at Bodyworks DW, writes about different answers to the common question: "how often should I get a massage?"
In hectic & stressful NYC, having an effective self-care routine in place is a key to survival. We know that massage therapy relieves chronic pain, stress, and restores functional movement. Deciding to add massage therapy into your self-care routine often begs the question: "how often should I get a massage?" There is no one-size fits all answer, but having worked with thousands of clients, we have a few ideas for your lifestyle and health profile.
Hopefully, these will help you determine how often to get a massage to keep you pain free!
(Did you know that new clients get $25 off their first massage?)
How Often Should I Get a Massage? - The Simple Answers
First Rule: Don't wait for a crisis! Start adding massage therapy to your routine before you get injured. You'll need to come far less often and also vastly improve your ability to prevent future injury.
Second Rule: For most current pain symptoms we recommend a series of massage therapy sessions with no more than 2 weeks between sessions. Depending on the severity of your pain and the causes the series will be anywhere from 3-8 sessions.
Third Rule: After you stop experiencing chronic pain, you can switch to a maintenance cycle of massage. This is important to keep the pain from coming back. For people who work highly stressful jobs or work out hard regularly, we recommend a maintenance massage every 2-4 weeks. For the rest of you, a maintenance massage every 6-12 weeks usually does the trick of keeping you pain free!
How Often Should I Get a Massage? - Specific Answers for Different Clients
When my job has me sitting at a desk for long hours
With a desk job over time your body starts accepting your sitting postures as your "go to" posture. Your body adjusts your muscles, nervous system, and fascia to make sitting easier to hold. This can be problematic when you go to do something more active. Like a run or yoga class. Or even something simple such as carrying groceries home. Or getting a heavy object down from a shelf. The long term build up of desk tension in the sitting position often leads to injuries.
Combatting the postural habits caused by sitting at a desk can be effectively managed with a series of weekly or biweekly massage therapy sessions.
A series of 3-8 massages with less than 2 weeks between them is usually enough. It will make a huge difference in your posture. And get you out of the chronic pain cycle. After you are pain free look at the general guidelines above for how often to get a maintenance massage.
A good massage therapist near you should also be able to provide you with corrective cues, exercises, other self-care practices. By practicing these you can lower the number of massage sessions you’ll need overall in the series. And you’ll be able to maintain your pain free life with fewer maintenance massage sessions too!
Getting massage therapy to help recover from surgery
Depending on the severity of your surgery, we recommend massage therapy once every few weeks. This assumes that you are also working with a physical therapist 1-3 times a week. Massage therapy sessions for these cases will help to reduce pain and hopefully reduce the need for pain medication. It will also speed up recovery, improve overall circulation, minimize the effects of scar tissue and promote lymph drainage if there is swelling.
Asking your doctor about whether massage therapy is a good treatment option for your particular surgery recovery is recommended. While massage can help with recovery from many types of surgeries, it can be contraindicated for certain ones. Or particular massage modalities may be better suited for your specific case. Having all health professionals involved and on-board will result in a more effective, comprehensive and seamless transition back to normal activity. Once you are able to return to your favorite and daily activities, massage session frequency can be reduced to a maintenance cycle.
However, sometimes insurance will stop covering physical therapy sessions despite the fact that you are still experiencing pain. If this happens, we recommend continuing massage therapy sessions once a week or at most every other week until you are pain free.
For chronic pain or stress due to autoimmune disorders?
Chronic autoimmune symptoms can range from disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, migraines, depression and insomnia…and many, many more. These conditions often cause debilitating effects that can disrupt your lifestyle. To manage these and work through them, it is recommended to work with a massage therapist every 2-4 weeks. Some conditions that are more serious or are still new for the client may even benefit from weekly or twice weekly massage sessions.
Massage therapy can help support you and keep your chronic symptoms under control. In conjunction with eating an anti-inflammatory diet, regular light exercise, it may also help lower dosages of any medications you are taking.
Have you been experiencing one or more of these conditions, or have been diagnosed with one? It is important to keep an open and ongoing dialogue with your therapist as well as all other involved health care professionals. Figuring out what works and what does not is critical to getting you to a point with fewer episodes and/or flare-ups.
When I have an active lifestyle
For the more casual athlete, gym-goer and workout warrior, sports massage session frequency can range from once a week to once a month. It is largely dependent on how often you are working out and playing sports. And the intensity at which you do these activities. For the average person trying to stay active and in good shape and health, once a month is usually a solid rule of thumb. If you compete in an activity or have periods of higher intensity training, increasing sessions to twice a month is always an option. On the more extreme end of the spectrum, professional athletes may require massage therapy multiple times a week. This helps to maintain their performance and to reduce their risk of injury.
Keep your training schedule in mind when you come in for a session. If you have a big event or intense training session within 24 hours, getting a focused deep tissue massage might not be the best option. Great massage therapists will instead craft a lighter session to complement your training and get you ready and primed for your big event.
When I am pregnant
Pregnancy involves pretty major changes to the body in order to carry a baby to term. It has several specific massage related caveats and should be addressed differently in terms of frequency. While there are no hard and fast rules, we recommend once a month during the first and second trimester, and once every other week during the third trimester. For more information on prenatal massage, check out this Guide to a Peaceful Pregnancy article!
Massage Therapy is cumulative...consistency is key!
Having consistently spaced massage therapy sessions at Bodyworks DW Advanced Massage Therapy will allow you to get the most mileage out of your body. You can minimize stress and pain and maximize recovery. The effects of massage therapy are cumulative. Your body thrives with consistency when it comes to taking care of it and each session builds upon the last. This is one of the reasons why we encourage booking your next appointment or two after you’ve finished a current one. This helps keep you accountable to yourself when it comes to taking your self care time seriously.
Bodyworks DW therapists want to get you to the point of “maintenance” massage. This means that our therapists have gotten you to a stable point with minimal to no current injuries, and no major pain. We ultimately want your massage sessions to be relaxing and therapeutic tune-ups that will keep your body injury and pain free for the long run.
New Clients get $25 Off Their First Massage!
We offer both pain management massage therapy and maintenance massage therapy in Midtown and the Financial District in New York City. Would you like to schedule a professional massage with one of our highly trained massage therapists? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our massage Midtown or massage Fidi studios!