How often should I get a massage?

Without fail this is one of the most common questions I receive as a Richmond massage therapist. The truth is, though, how often you should get a massage treatment is very individual and doesn’t follow a set formula.

As a massage therapist, I am asked this question by every 9 clients out of 10. There are several factors that I take into consideration, and these factors include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

    1. Why are you coming for treatment? For example, is this for a specific issue, or is it for relaxation?
      • Treatments which focus on specific issues are usually more frequent, though I rarely have treated a client more than 2 times a week for more than 3 or 4 weeks.
      • For relaxation and general health purposes, more than once a month is not necessary unless you have the time and financial resources to get treated.
    2. What is the tissue presentation?
      • If you have a chronic, long-standing issue, and the tissue is very “dense” or “hard”, then you may need several treatments over a few weeks to make progress. Once your tissue has loosened up a bit, you should start feeling better. After a few weeks, your therapist should see how you are progressing, and you should be given the option of reducing treatment frequency.
      • Tissue that is inflamed from injury cannot be treated directly with massage therapy, however, surrounding and compensating structures can and should be addressed to prevent pain and muscle imbalance.
      • Tissue that is inflamed from injury can be treated with Manual Lymph Drainage (also known as lymphatic drainage or mld). Frequent treatments of this nature are recommended as this therapy facilitates the removal of metabolic waste from the injury and relieves pain and congestion.
    3. Keeping in mind that everyone is individual and responds differently to treatment, you may notice that the effects of the treatment last only a day or so after the first treatment, with longer periods of feeling better as you progress – this is when your therapist should reduce treatment frequency. After all, how are you going to know that you’re feeling better if you are still getting treatments twice a week?
    4. After 3 treatments, how are you feeling?
      • Personally, even with chronic issues such as upper back pain and tension, I feel that a client should notice an improvement by the end of the 3rd treatment. This is my guideline which tells me I am on the right track, and it keeps me focused on what the client needs. I’m not saying there should be a huge or remarkable improvement, but some progress should have been made.
      • And just a side note for clients – if you aren’t seeing some improvement such as decreased pain, increased mobility etc by the end of the 3rd treatment, then your issues aren’t being addressed. At this point your therapist should go over the treatment plan again (sometimes we miss things), and perhaps revamp it a bit.
      • If no progress has been made by treatment number 5, ask to be referred to another therapist. Beware the therapist who insists that you continue to book, and don’t be shy to say that you’re not feeling any different, after all, massage therapy is your investment in health.

If you are unable to come for the recommended frequency due to financial concerns, talk to your therapist. If he or she is aware of your financial limitations, she might be able to adjust the treatment plan so that you can maximum benefit for your restricted budget, or recommend things you can try at home to enhance and prolong the effect of the treatment.


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