What Exactly is Massage?
Massages are one of life’s greatest joys. If you aren’t used to getting them regularly, it should be something you seriously consider. There aren’t many things in life that feel as good as massages do, that are also incredibly good for you. It’s a little like getting to have your cake and eat it, too. There are, of course, many types of “body work” available, today (acupuncture, chiropractic, Bowen therapy, etc.). But of them all, massage is not only among the best for your body, but also feels the best.
Oftentimes, getting a massage feels like a treat. Muscles relax as a result, your mind calms down, and overall tension lowers – physical and mental.
There are times when massages can be a little intense – particularly after an injury, or when really working through deep tension. In any case, however, massage nearly always leaves you feeling lighter, deeply relaxed, and very rested. At times, yes, a little sore... but in a very good way. And no doubt about it, your current and long-term health benefit, substantially.
How often Should You Get a Massage for General Health?
Many people get massages once or twice a year. Many more think about it once or twice per year, but never actually set an appointment. Some athletes schedule massages into their calendars as part of their overall training regime, and never miss a weekly session. And some of the most consistent receivers of massage are those who have had injuries, and are seeking recovery.
In terms of your specific situation, the best way to determine how often you should get a massage is to talk with a local massage therapist whom you trust. Even if you’re only looking to get massage for general health (and everyone should), the frequency for health maintenance looks different for everyone. Some people find that tension creeps into their body more easily than others. Some people have desk jobs where they often round forward their shoulders and backs. Some people do manual labor for work, and need extra massage work.
The truth is, you won’t find a better answer, online, for how often you – specifically – should get a massage. Go talk with your local massage therapist.
Signs of a Good Massage Therapist
If you’re not someone who regularly sets massage appointments, you may not know where to begin with finding the right company or massage therapist. It may be helpful for you to know (if you already didn’t) that anyone performing a massage at a local business has already received their massage therapy license from a formal massage therapy school. This means that you can know for certain anyone you see is at least qualified to give you a professional-level massage.
From there, the four main differentiators among massage therapy practices are the following:
Professionalism, value received for price paid, communication and ease of scheduling, number of massage therapists available, expertise in the industry, and what all the company offers – even besides massage.
Types of Massage Offered
Stone massage, deep tissue/ therapeutic massage, Swedish massage, prenatal massage, couples massage, and others. Do they offer the type of massage you’re really looking to receive?
Individual Massage Therapist Expertise
A massage therapist who’s been giving massages for many years will simply have more experience than someone fresh out of school. Of course, degree of expertise also changes price. So, it comes down to what you want most. You may decide that price is a factor for you, or that massage is one of those things for which it’s worth it, paying a premium.
Coming from the massage therapist, company, and location environment. Ideally, massages should take place in an area that feels calming, soothing, and helps with relaxation. The professionalism of the space certainly matters, and the mood you feel when you walk in does count towards your overall massage experience.
If you find a company and massage therapist that you enjoy, stick with them. If you do regularly see the same massage therapist, they’re likely to discover the unique aspects of your body that need attention. Plus, the consistency allows your body to respond to massage better and better. If at any point you’re not sure if you’re getting the best massage, you can always ask for another therapist at the same location, or even try another location, altogether. There’s nothing wrong with doing a little ground work to find the best therapist for you. Especially since the potential benefits of massage are so high.
Massage benefits your body in virtually every way you didn’t know you needed. They are the kinds of benefits that come with youth, but begin to fade once you hit your 30’s (or sometimes even a little earlier). You may not think about these kinds of things, or have thought about them, until you really need them. However, the body is better at hanging onto aspects of health that do receive intentional cultivation. The younger you begin, the better.
Here are some of the ways you can retain your youth as you age, with the help of regular massage:
- Youthful, vibrant skin tone, color, and glow
- Comparatively quick recovery from injuries, small and large
- Improved lymphatic movement and drainage (improved immune system, hydration, removal of toxins, and much more)
- Improved muscle fluidity, resilience, mobility, and strength
- Improved joint mobility (this becomes especially important with age since tendons and ligaments do not have their own direct blood supply, aside from that given to them from muscle contraction)
- Improved circulation (improved blood oxygen and nutrient levels, leading to systemically better provision of body cells)
- Improved mental clarity and mood
Massage provides the environment necessary for the body to heal in a variety of ways, and to simply improve, in others. The effects of a massage are comparable to deep stretching, plus extra sleep. The truth is that without very intentional effort, the body does lose mobility, circulation function, and vibrancy in a multitude of way, over time. One of the best ways to keep the body in full function, in addition to moving it in every conceivable way, eating properly, drinking a lot of water, and getting enough sleep, is to supplement your health efforts with regular massage therapy. We hope you’ll choose to make massage a regular part of your health habits. Here’s to healthy living!