I was speaking with one of my clients this week about the amount of pain he feels regularly and how he tries to just deal with it. I wonder how many of us do that when we feel pain? Do we gain something from knowing that we can get through a certain amount of it? Is it a great point of conversation to relate to others? Is it real? Why is it there? Why is there so much fear around it? I think it is time for a different perspective and conversation about pain.
First of all, what is pain, really? Physiologically speaking, it is a combination of a slow electrical sensory nerve impulse combined with a chemical release that the brain interprets as "pain." In layman's terms it is an electrical warning system. Not so scary, is it? We quickly learn things that we need to protect ourselves from and it slowly develops into what we perceive as pain. What if it is a warning from our body, just like the check engine light in our car? How much fear comes into to you when that little light comes on? "OMG, what's wrong now? This is gonna cost me ton! I don't have time for this!" Usually this is really just a warning that needs a little attention and is not a big deal. Is it possible to be more aware of the other "warnings" in our body, before it has to get to pain? In most cases with my clients, they come to me with some sort of pain response that has them a little freaked out and we find it is some small mis-alignment in the tissue or movement that the body is saying "hey! look at me, some attention is needed here." Within a short amount of time, awareness is created and the pain is magically gone. And believe me, it is magic.
There is a little more to it than that though. You have to be willing to make the change so the signal stops. Ask yourself what value are you getting form your pain. This is a major step in really letting it go. I worked with a gentleman for two years and his pain did not get better until his settlement came in. Interesting, right? Have you held on to pain for any other reasons? Has it been an easy excuse for you to get out of making the changes you think you want? Or maybe you are just used to it and it is part of you. What ever the reason, it can be changed if you are willing to really look at the warning and stop trying to ignore it. Sometimes action is required to make change and body/energy work could be what you need.
I am probably asked four or five times a week how often someone should get a massage. The simple answer is "it depends." I am sure this question has been answered in many different ways, by many authorities, but I thought I could shed some light on the subject for all you real people out there. The first thing to do is figure out what your goals are for the massage. I see about three different, generalized categories of clients, and I am sure you will probably fit into one of them. The first are those who have an injury or chronic pain and are looking for relief and management. The second are athletes who use massage as part of their training routine. Lastly, some just enjoy the work and like to gift it to their bodies every once in a while. This blog will break down each of these categories and explain how often massage should be used.
For those of you with a nagging injury or want to improve posture the most important knowledge I can impart is that it takes time for the body to change and heal, which requires some investment on your part. The good news is that it is not much. I usually tell my new clients that after the first session they will notice improvement, but it usually takes 3-4 sessions to make a lasting change. For the best results, these should be completed within 7-14 days of each other. This allows the body to heal enough between sessions, but still have the effect of the previous session so the therapist does not have to back track. Once the goal is reached, sometimes maintenance is required. These sessions usually start about once a month and can spread out as far as 6 months or more.
Where my athletes at? This one is for you! Using massage as a part of a training regimen can boost your performance and shorten recovery between workouts. It doesn't matter what caliber of athlete you are, massage will help. For top athletes who train everyday for hours on end, usually once a week is good, right before the rest day. This gives the body time to let the massage sink in before the abuse starts again. (you know who you are and know what I am talking about.) For the rest of you weekend warriors, I recommend once or twice a month to tweak things here and there. These sessions should also be done before a rest day.
Lastly, for you lucky people who just want to enjoy the feel of your body being put through the ringer just because, get a massage as often as you like. I would not do it more than once a week, but hey, if it floats your boat, it won't really cause any harm as long as your therapist is cognizant of what they are doing and how often you are receiving body work.
Thanks for tuning in again! Hopefully you now have a better idea of how often you should receive a massage. Just know that it is always best to consult your therapist and if something doesn't sound right, it probably isn't. Always looking for more ideas to write about in the realm of massage. Please leave questions in the comments. Talk to you all soon!