How often should you get a massage?
Like most things in life, it depends. Begin by determining the results you are looking for. Once you have your goal, ask these questions. What condition is your body in? What makes sense financially? And how often you can realistically get to the office?
So let's say you just got your first massage. As you walk out of the room you can’t believe how free your body feels. On your ride home, you can actually turn your head and look in your blind spot without pain. In the back of your mind you wonder how long it's been since you could do that. After you walk through your door, you drink some cold water and settle down onto the couch. As you revel in the newfound freedom in your body and mind you begin to wonder… “when should I go back?”
The answer is, it depends.
You should ask yourself a few questions. The most important being, what’s going on in your body? The second most important being, what results are you looking for? Before we go any further, here's a little caveat which I hope is obvious. Massage therapy is not a substitute for medical advice. If you have some serious pain, get it checked out first. An X-ray or MRI is far superior to simple palpation of the area in question. If you’re unclear what might be wrong, you should not rely on body sense alone. Go get it checked out. Make sure there is not a more serious injury first. Once you’ve been cleared by your doctor you can enjoy the benefits and healing that massage has to offer. With all that in mind, let’s take a look at some typical situations and determine where you fit in.
Desk worker - If you work at a desk for 40 hours a week there is a good chance you have some pretty hefty muscular imbalances slowly building up. Get in once a month or bi-monthly. This is especially true if you don’t find yourself moving your body on a regular basis (this would include going to the gym, yoga, spin, sports, etc). You may be slowly brewing deep imbalances. They might begin as a little neck pain here or a twinge of low back pain there, but over time you may find these pains becoming longer-lasting.
You may even say to yourself, “eh, I’m just getting older. That just hurts now.” This, however, could not be further from the truth. A monthly or bi-monthly massage is an excellent way to keep your body limber and free up any restrictions that have built up in your neck, shoulders, arms, and/or glutes. If you complement this with a movement or stretching practice you will find that you can dramatically decrease the frequency of massage and still have excellent mobility with next to no pain.
Chronic pain or injury - You’ve been cleared by your doctor for massage and you’re ready for your treatment plan. Get in weekly or bi-weekly. I’ve seen time and again that increased frequency increases effectiveness. Basically, with longer-standing issues its harder to remove all the muscular imbalances in one shot. In fact, it would be too much for the body to integrate and wouldn’t be indicated anyway!