"How often should I come in for massage?"

It is the question I hear often at the end of a massage session.  The answer isn't the same for everyone.  It depends on your goals with massage and how helpful it was in your treatment.  For some, consistent massage can be very beneficial.  For others it may not be the best avenue of approach in healing the body.

One client I saw last week asked this very question.  She came to see me because she heard massage might help her with the pain & numbness in her hands (due to office work).  She was dealing with her symptoms for over two months, and just wanted it to go away.  I performed massage and myofascial release techniques on her pecs, arms, and hands in an hour session.  She was amazed at the results, then asked; "How often should I come in for massage?"  

Since the massage was beneficial in relieving her symptoms, I told her consistent massage could really help her since she had chronic symptoms.  I wanted to see her once a week until the symptoms subsided enough where her hands wouldn't give her problems anymore.  She decided to see me consistently for 4 weeks to see if she could get rid of her pain & numbness.

Yesterday was my second session with her.  She happily reported that most of her symptoms had stayed away since the last massage, and her quality of life was much better.  However, she was still getting some symptoms which was the reason I wanted to see her more often.  I'm hoping her symptoms are gone or at the very least, manageable by the end of the 4 weeks that I'm working with her. 

Weekly massage has helped clients immensely with conditions such as carpal tunnel, frozen shoulder, sciatica, and low back pain to name just a few chronic conditions.  In my practice, I make it affordable for clients to see me once a week if money is your excuse.  Actually many massage therapist will discount massages if your scheduled to see them more consistently, all you need to do is ask what their group/package rates are.

No chronic pain conditions?  Maybe you just pulled a muscle shoveling  your driveway.  Maybe you over-did it in your last workout, and need relief from the pain.  Consistent massage (1-3 sessions) can help with that too.  Most times when there is muscle problems, just one massage won't cut it.  I've seen some clients twice in a week to help with acute (new pain) conditions.

Just have the normal aches and pains?  Minor muscle tightness?  Then I generally recommend massage once a month for maintenance so that whatever is stiff or tight doesn't get any worse.  Most often than not, it does get worse.  Sometimes I just tell those clients to make an appointment when they feel "its time".  For clients that are healthy and feeling great, I also tell them to see me when they need to.  Massage is like a tune-up for the body after all, the more of it you get, the less likely you'll have muscle problems down the road.

However, I have had some clients that massage wouldn't help.  There could be a number of reasons why it doesn't.  For example if your body's auto-immune system is out of control, it can cause chronic muscle tightening in some areas.  Massage would loosen up these areas, just for the body to tighten up an hour later.  The same goes for people under an unusual high amount of stress at work or at home.  If everything in your life is stressing you out, even getting massage often may not be enough.  

You have to remember that massage is complimentary and should be used to help with your healing.  Massage Therapists cannot diagnose, prescribe, and fix everything that was wrong with you in one session.  Massage is there to aid you in your path to healing.  If you noticed your massage helped a lot but the symptoms come back, look at what you are doing that brings those pain symptoms back.  If I notice that my massage isn't helping the client at all, I suggest they see their primary care physician.  I'll also refer to other therapies that may be better suited in their path to healing.

So how often should you come in for massage?  After reading this you should have a better idea.  Ask your therapist what would be best in your path to healing.