After a great treatment, the obvious next question is, “When should I come back?” The answer depends on many factors, such as your budget, your available time, and most importantly, what your treatment goals are. While there are no simple answers to this question, here are some guidelines that may help you to decide on a treatment schedule that is best suited for you.
It’s important to remember that the effects of massage are cumulative. Each massage builds on the one before it. If you wait too long between treatments, your tension may have come back and then we’re back to where we started. On the other hand, if you are diligent about following the home care advice you’re given, you’ll find that you can stretch the benefits of the massage and decrease the treatment frequency.
Consider how long you have had your pain. If you’re experiencing a chronic, long-standing condition, several treatments close together might be more effective. This tension has built up over weeks, months, or years, and it will take more than one or two treatments to get back on track. Coming more frequently will give the best opportunity to override habitual muscle patterns and get to the root of your problem. For instance, if you’ve been suffering from headaches for a few years, weekly treatments for 3-4 weeks should start to have an impact. Once you’re seeing the results you want, it’s time reduce the frequency to every 2 weeks. Don’t reduce the frequency until you are getting consistent results. Follow up with monthly maintenance so the headaches don’t come back. Chronic conditions are often related to your most frequent activities, such as sitting at a desk or participating in your favourite sport. If you can avoid the trigger, maintenance may not be neccessary, but if you still have to sit at that desk every day, maintenance is recommended.
If you’ve come for massage therapy for a recent trauma, such as a sprained ankle which is more acute, time is of the essence! Get a treatment as soon as you can. It can reduce the pain, speed up your healing time and promote better healing with fewer adhesions and more mobile scar tissue which can have a long-term impact on the success of your recovery. You don’t have to wait until the pain is gone. Your massage therapist is able to use many techniques within your pain tolerance that will still be effective even if very gentle massage is all you can tolerate. Get a few short treatments, perhaps twice a week during the acute phase, reducing the frequency as your body heals itself.
For athletes who are in regular training, weekly massage can support your training and help you to avoid injuries. It’s a great way to keep your muscles healthy, and to improve your body awareness. You’ll find that your regular massages will inform you of asymmetry in how you’re strengthening your body, postural imbalances, weak areas, and trigger points which may negatively affect your training, all of which may leave you vulnerable to injuries.
If you’re choosing massage therapy as a way to help you relax, destress, or to pamper yourself, then treatment frequency is entirely up to you. You know best how much stress you have and when you’re in need. So if you have a very stressful job, you might come often, maybe every week. If you only get stressed at certain seasons (tax time, year end, holidays), maybe you’ll only book at those times of the year. I encourage you to plan ahead for those difficult times you see on the horizon so you get a time that is convenient for you.
Every situation is unique and needs are always changing, so talk to your massage therapist about your goals. Of course, you are always welcome to come as often as you’d like!