Unsure of how frequently to get a massage?
There are a few ways to approach the question.
Variables including stress level, your body’s needs and your finances all come into play when selecting a frequency of massage. For someone facing an acute issue like a painful back or neck, more frequent massages may be in order until the situation is under control, and then stretching out the massage schedule may begin. You also may seek out different massage modalities at different times, instead of always receiving the same type; deep tissue one time to work out the kinks, followed by a more relaxing Swedish massage a couple of weeks later, for example.
Experts like industry writer Anitra Brown recommend a monthly massage as a minimum for maintaining muscle pliancy. The ideal frequency, she said, is every week or two; the frequency ensures that muscle tissue can be kept in good shape. Such frequent massage increases health benefits (like improving blood circulation) that wouldn’t necessarily be as present with more infrequent massage. Less than monthly massages means the muscles are more likely go back to their accustomed (and incorrect) patterns and postures.
The most important thing to remember is to listen to your body; only it will know when it is time to revisit your massage therapist.
For those who have demanding physical jobs, in fields like manufacturing, retail and food service, studies have shown that regular weekly or monthly massages can help abet repetitive stress injuries; the most famous example may be that of Wampler Foods in Virginia, which saw high levels of worker’s compensation claims. After instituting a program of massage, ergonomics and exercise, they found their employees’ claims for repetitive stress injuries decreased by 75%.
Even doctors have begun prescribing massage and similar therapies to their patients in order to manage chronic stress and pain; some insurance companies now include massage as a covered portion of a rehabilitation program, along with services like chiropractic and physical therapy.
The American Massage Therapy Association‘s 2012 Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet found that 96% of massage therapists surveyed had received referrals from hospitals or medical offices; an equal percentage believe massage therapy should be included as part of the health care field.
Researchers have demonstrated the effectiveness of massage for various conditions, ranging from commonly cited issues like lower back pain (Preyde M. (2003) Effectiveness of massage therapy for subacute low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Soft Tissue Manipulation, 8, 4 – 10) to issues like high blood pressure (Hernandez-Reif M, Field T, Krasnegor J, Theakston H, Hossain Z, Burman I (2000). High blood pressure and associated symptoms were reduced by massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 4, 31 – 38).