How Often Should I Get a Massage?

Here's a frequently asked question: How often should you get massage? The simplest answer is, "as often as your budget allows." Any massage is better than no massage, but is "once in a while" enough?

If you don't have any specific pain issues then once in a while is just fine. A monthly massage can be an effective part of your fitness and wellness routine, keeping you aware of your body and helping you stay ahead of developing pain and chronic tightness. It can keep you loose for the gym, and it can help you stay aware of your posture as you go through your work day.

If, however, you have specific pain issues, or if you'd like to push back against a problem that has taken a long time to develop (posture-related pain, nerve dysfunction, low mood), then a more aggressive treatment regimen is a good idea. Most research on massage uses one session per week, often for a duration of 12 weeks. When I refer to studies regarding the benefits for physical and mental disorders, I'm talking about those who are receiving regular and frequent massage.

There's a reason for this: Massage doesn't often produce its results from any single session. It's a process of repeatedly interacting with the body in a way that relaxes the nervous system, and that helps it realize that it doesn't need so much tension and guarding. This process can take time.

The positive news is that I've seen excellent results from biweekly massage. If you've got pain or dysfunction that could use some relief, 2 massages per month will likely do you some good. I've seen people have reduced low back pain, headache, TMJ dysfunction, and running-related pain by using this frequency.

That said, there are some circumstances where I do recommend weekly massage. If you've got frozen shoulder, it can help immensely to have someone challenge your range of motion and soothe your nervous system once per week until symptoms abate. If you've got extreme low back pain, a month of weekly massage might be enough to break that cycle of spasm and inflammation that keeps it going.

Needless to say, I'm a big believer in massage. I think that, applied properly, it can make significant changes in people's lives. It is a dose-dependent therapy, however, so the amount of massage that you receive makes a difference. The effects of massage are cumulative. 

What do you think? Have you found that frequent massage has been helpful for you? Thanks for reading, and let me know if you have any questions you'd like answered!