Here are my general guidelines for massage treatment frequency:
*Please note, this is a generic guide and would be adapted for each individual scenario.*
Relaxation – Most say once a month for 60 minutes is sufficient, but I think if you really want some benefit, but only want to come once a month, 90 or 120 minutes is better. I encourage you to try sampling a 90 or 120 minute session some time and you perhaps you will see what I am talking about.
Acute injury – more frequent treatments of shorter duration should help – for example, 2 times a week for 30 – 45 minutes. This should help relieve pain and congestion in the area, then after a few weeks, switch to deeper, muscular work for longer periods of time. At this point your injury may have moved into a sub acute or chronic stage of healing, depending on the severity of the injury, 1-2 times a week for an hour, over a period of 3-4 weeks should get you on the road to recovery.
Treatment for chronic conditions (i.e. headaches or back pain) – one hour twice a week for 4 treatments, then try once a week for 3 or 4 weeks, and try to decrease to 1x in 14 days for 2 treatments. You will then go into maintenance mode. Once again, very individual, and the longer the condition has been an issue for the client, the more treatments will usually be needed to make consistent gains.
Some more general guidelines:
Follow remedial exercise and homecare advice – passive treatments such as massage therapy can only take you so far, it is YOUR responsibility to be proactive in your own health care. This means follow any exercise, stress management, nutrition and lifestyle advice you receive from qualified individuals/resources. Record what you do and how you feel, try to make a correlation between various factors. If you have a team of health care providers who are willing to work together, use them!
Don’t go too long between treatments! This is a common mistake a lot of people make. Any progress made during your initial treatments are building upon the progress made in a prior treatment. This means that if I’ve treated a client for chronic back pain for a month and we’re seeing some results, if he/she stretches out the length of time between appointments to 8 weeks instead of my recommended 2 – 4 weeks, it may be like starting all over again. How frustrating and what a waste of money for the client!
Remember, though, that if you start to feel consistently better (and consistent is the key word here), you have the right to say “I’d like to stretch out the time between treatments a few more days, can we try that?” Your therapist can only give you advice and guidance, you have to figure things out what works for your situation.
If the treatment is not helping – find another therapist! Sometimes people feel awkward about ditching their therapist, especially if you have a good relationship with him or her. BUT, bottom line, it’s your time and hard earned money, and you should see results. If you come to a point where you would like to see another massage therapist, please let me know, I would be happy to recommend you to another therapist. I know a lot of very good, highly skilled therapists. I don’t take offense and would prefer you let me know and inquire. Sometimes massage therapy is not the be-all-end-all of treatments, I personally find a combination of therapies to be the most effective.
Knowing your rights as a client will prevent you from getting expensive, unnecessary or ineffective treatments, and will enable you to receive treatment that suits your needs. Good luck and healing wishes to you…