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How often should you get massage? (a true confession)

I used to get massages several times a month. And with good reason — I am a bodyworker and my work is really physical. I need to keep my body in shape and my mind “in check.” I need to be mentally present for my clients. I can’t deliver good bodywork if I am raging on unbridled stress hormones and my back is in pain from working on my clients’ bodies.

But — this is the confession part — when I became a mommy in 2010, my own massages went straight to the back burner. Ok, and for those first few months, they weren’t anywhere near the back burner. Somehow I still found time for some meditation and my yoga (a child’s gotta sleep eventually, right?) even if it is just stolen moments here and there for a quiet sun salutation. But my own massages became few and far between.

Recently, I came to my senses and “forced” myself to start getting regular massages again. And, yes, I learned this lesson again. Committing to regular massage changes everything. I feel the change in my body, my energy levels, my commitment to eating well and exercising, my clarity of mind, the increased giggling at bath time every night. And I’m pretty sure my family notices it too.

The reality is that no matter how much we think of massage as a luxury or a special, occasional, pampering activity, it is really a deeply therapeutic treatment. And the more frequently and regularly we get massage, the more the benefits are compounded. The more massage you get, the more it does.

Taking part in this form of regularly-scheduled self-care can play a huge part in how healthy and youthful we’ll remain with each passing year. Budgeting time and money for bodywork at consistent intervals is an investment in your health. Consider massage appointments a necessary piece of your health and wellness plan.

Clients frequently ask me, “how often should I get massage?”

Here’s my sincere response: As often as you can! And you should pre-schedule it so that you know you are committing to that time each month. Obviously, how often you come in depends on what you hope to achieve out of massage. Here are some general guidelines.

For chronic conditions: You suffer from headaches or back pain. Try one hour twice a week for 4 treatments, then try once a week for 3 or 4 weeks, and continue to decrease until you find a good pattern that works for you (often about once a month).

For relaxation and general wellness: Once a month, unless you want to come in more frequently to treat yourself or if you have particularly stressful things happening in your life (buying a home, having a baby, work drama, etc.).

The benefits really do increase with frequent visits. All those lists upon lists of the benefits of bodywork, most come from studies where massage is administered regularly over a period of several weeks.

Just some of the benefits of regular massage. What exactly are the benefits of receiving massage or bodywork treatments? Useful for all of the conditions listed below and more, massage can:

  • Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
  • Assist with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shorten maternity hospital stays.
  • Ease medication dependence. 
  • Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body’s natural defense system.
  • Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or   atrophied muscles.
  • Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts. 
  • Improve the condition of the body’s largest organ—the skin.
  • Increase joint flexibility. 
  • Lessen depression and anxiety. 
  • Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks. 
  • Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation. 
  • Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
  • Reduce spasms and cramping. 
  • Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
  • Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body’s natural painkiller.
  • Relieve migraine pain.

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