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When it comes to maintaining your health, improving stress, or managing a pain condition you may want to rethink longer and less frequent massage sessions.

Whenever I put my hands on someone it is inevitable that someone will say, “I wish I could do this every day!” And why shouldn’t you? You might think that the longer a session the better. When you look at massage research on health conditions all the research usually uses twenty to thirty minutes of massage two – three times a week for five to six weeks(1, 2, 3).

Massage therapy, like any therapy, is cumalative. You wouldn’t exercise once a month to get stronger. Or take medication once a month and expect to get better. No, you would do the prescribed dosage to get the results you are looking for.

Massage therapy works in a similar manner to exercise. Exercise places a stress on the body which encourages a healthy change in the tissues of your body. Long bouts of infrequent exercise will not lead to dramatic changes in your body. Massage works in the same way.

Long periods of stress, whether physical or mental, leads to changes in your physiology. Long hours of repeated muscular force leads to changes in the muscular tissue such as adhesions (scar tissue,) lack of circulation, and trigger points (muscle knots that cause pain.)

Stressful situations also can lead to an inability for the tissue to heal, poor sleep,and anxiety.

Massage can be helpful for these conditions but these changes happen over a long period of time and to improve them will take more than a one hour massage session at once a month.

Benefits of Shorter, More Frequent sessions

The first benefit of shorter, more frequent sessions is … it’s less expensive. Not to mention it’s more effective.

Think of it this way. Let’s suppose in the first session you feel%50 improvement. In two days you go back to your daily life that brought about your pain and the improvement you felt goes from %50 improvement down to %15 improvement. But you were smart and booked a second massage in three days. So you go back in and you go from %15 improvement to %65 improvement. After a day or two you drop back down to %25 percent improvement but go back on the third day and go from %25 to %75. And so on and so forth. 

A thirty minute massage session may sound like a waste of time and you may think, “what can you do in thirty minutes?”

Let’s suppose you have some low back pain that has been a problem on and off for a year and you also experience some neck tension. But right now it’s really the back pain that’s kept you from a good night’s sleep lately. If the therapist does an excellent job of assessment and narrows down some of the tissue that is at fault and spends a good ten to fifteen minutes on those areas, then bam! Spend another ten minutes on the neck. Then in the next session the therapist can go directly to the same areas. Perhaps now if the area is better the time can be split 50/50. As the areas improve more time can be spent on each area. 

Trust me. You can actually do a lot in thirty minutes as long as the time spent is quality. 

 

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Matthew Snow is a Licensed Massage Therapist practicing in Greenwich, CT. If you would like to schedule or make an appointment call (203) 660-0584 or email hello@h2tmuscleclinic.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

1) Garner, Belinda, Lisa J. Phillips, Hans-Martin Schmidt, Connie Markulev, Jenny O’Connor, Stephen J. Wood, Gregor E. Berger, Peter Burnett, and Patrick D. McGorry. “Pilot Study Evaluating the Effect of Massage Therapy on Stress, Anxiety and Aggression in a Young Adult Psychiatric Inpatient Unit.” Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 42.5 (2008): 414-22. Sage Journals. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <http://anp.sagepub.com/content/42/5/414.short>.

2) Field, Tiffany, Maria Hernandez-Reif, Miguel Diego, and Monica Fraser. “Lower Back Pain and Sleep Disturbance Are Reduced following Massage Therapy.” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 11.2 (2006): 141-45. Www.bodyworkmovementtherapies.com. Elsevier. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <http://www.bodyworkmovementtherapies.com/article/S1360-8592(06)00031-3/abstract?cc=y>.

3) Perlman, MD, MPH, Adam I., Alyse Sabina, MD, Anna-Leila Williams, PA-C, MPH, Valentine Yanchou Njike, MD, and David L. Katz, MD, MPH. “Massage Therapy for Osteoarthritis of the Knee.” JAMA Internal Medicine 166.22 (2006). Archinte.jamanetwork.com. Archives of Internal Medicine. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=769544>.