A massage works in wonderful ways, easing stress and pain, calming the nervous system, increasing circulation, loosening tight muscles, stimulating internal organs, and enhancing skin.
The multiplicity of physiological responses sends a simple, clear message to the mind/body/spirit. Massage feels good.
If massage is part of your regular health regimen, then it’s more likely the effects will endure. In other words, the effects of massage are cumulative, like any healthy habit. The more often you get a massage, the greater and longer-lasting the benefits.
How often you receive massage depends on why you’re seeking massage. In dealing with the general tension of everyday commutes, computer work, and time demands, a monthly massage may be enough to sustain you. On the other hand, if you’re seeking massage for chronic pain, you may need regular treatments every week or two. Or if you’re addressing an acute injury or dealing with high levels of stress, you may need more frequent sessions. Your situation will dictate the optimum time between treatments, and your practitioner will work with you to determine the best course of action.
"You need to consider how you felt before the session and how you felt after, and then look at how long you maintain that,” says Pieter Sommen, the chair of the eastern department in the Swedish Institute School of Massage Therapy in New York.
In general, experts say 'regular' is preferable, but how regular depends on your situation. While daily massage would be delightful, practical considerations such as cost, time, and physical need likely determine the frequency of treatments.
Whether you get a massage weekly, monthly, or just every once in a while, the following habits can maximize and extend the 'after massage feeling of bliss'.
One bit of advice you’ll hear over and over again is to drink plenty of water after a massage. Massage promotes circulation, increasing blood flow and oxygen and stimulating the lymphatic system. After-massage hydration supports these functions, can reduce muscle soreness and give the muscle tissues the lubrication they need to slide against each other.
Another helpful habit is stretching between massages to maintain joint mobility, prevent muscles from tightening up again, and keeping the life energy flowing. This may mean doing yoga or whatever specific or full-body stretches suggested by your practitioner. After your massage session, for example, your practitioner may recommend self stretches, designed to keep your energy flowing.
After a massage, respect how your body feels. If your body seems to ask for rest, give in to that demand. This may mean backing off the to-do list, taking it easy, moving slower, and perhaps doing less for a while. And don’t allow yourself to get fatigued because it will undermine the effects of massage. Get sufficient sleep to allow the body to absorb the effects and regain vitality.