By Sara Stevens
Massage clients often ask me, “how often should I get a massage?” The true answer is that it depends on an individual’s need and goals. But for most people the answer could easily be “more often than you do."
Many people wait until they’re in pain or completely stressed out. While those are both situations that massage can be beneficial for, regular massage can be an incredibly diverse tool in your toolbox of health, fitness and self care methods.
Top 4 times you need a massage but might not realize it
1. Before you’re super stressed
A relaxing massage, like a good sweat session, can release feel-good endorphins, bringing down current stress levels and making it easier to manage stress when it comes at you later. Several studies show that massage can bring down levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and increase levels of dopamine and serotonin, both important hormones for regulating mood and sleep, according to the American Massage Therapy Association.
Regularly doing something to bring down your stress level before it gets really high can keep it from getting to the point where you feel like you’re on the verge of a breakdown. This is better for both physical and mental health, as well as personal and professional relationships.
Consider scheduling a massage the two weeks leading up to a big event or deadline or anytime you know you're facing a hectic schedule in the next week or month. Scheduling your self care ahead of time makes it more likely that you’ll keep that appointment and keep your sanity through hectic times.
2. Before you’re in pain
You don’t have to wait until you’re in pain to get a massage. Massage is most effective when it’s received on a regular basis. The more time you let go by between massages, the longer your muscles have to fall back into the movement pattern that created pain in the first place. Receiving work on a nagging injury regularly will move you closer to resolving the issue instead of temporarily relieving it.
At Spears Strong we also incorporate training and massage. That means in addition to your massage, you can get instruction and "homework" that empowers you to take your pain relief into your own hands and continue the work done in the massage. These two things together will expedite your pain relief and keep you moving between massages.
3. For a “spot treatment”
Have an ache, but feeling strapped for time? Schedule a 30 minute focused session. If your only complaint is aching feet, scheduling 30 minutes for a feet and lower leg massage might be all you need. Thirty minutes of focused neck and shoulder work might be just the thing to reduce those tension headaches and keep you moving through your busy week. You may find that 30 minutes of focused work once or twice a week will help speed up your recovery from a nagging issue.
4. Because you feel like it
Treating yourself to something you enjoy that also happens to have multiple health benefits is not over indulgent. Massage is also a great non-food reward for working hard toward any goal, whether it’s changing your eating habits, hitting your weekly workout goal, or finishing a big project at home or at work.
Massage is often looked at as an indulgence, but when received regularly it can be an incredibly powerful tool to keep you moving, feeling good and de-stressed. Research shows that massage is a practical tool for maintaining health, wellness and fitness.