Massages are a great relaxation tool, and many of us will have had a massage at some point. But massages tend to be seen as ‘one-off treats’ and are rarely incorporated into most people’s health and wellbeing regimes.
Sure, we might go to the gym, or try and drink enough water, but what about giving our muscles some regular me-time, too?
What do massages do for my body?
Massages can provide you with a lot of health benefits. Not only do they improve blood circulation and lymphatic circulation, but they also calm the nervous system and relieve muscle pain. Massages can also be used to treat conditions such as arthritis, sciatica and muscle spasms.
You build muscle tension over time, so having a massage once or twice a year isn’t going to undo the many years you’ve spent building it up.
However, the amount you’re able to get a massage is affected by a lot of things: firstly, your reasons for the massages, and secondly, your resources (so your time and money.) Typically, once a week is recommended as ‘the optimum’ spacing for massages, but few of us can afford that.
So what can we do?
This week we look at how regularly you should consider a massage based on your needs.
If you're an athlete
Athletes that need their body to be performing at its best should look at getting a massage as often as once or twice a week.
Massage is crucial to maintaining and supporting muscle function and flexibility, which is why you’ll see so many professional athletes on the massage table after an event (for example did you know that there are specialises massage tents set up at the London Marathon?)
As well as helping athletes hit their top performance it can also help reduce how susceptible your muscles are to injury.
Few of us will be at Mo Farah levels of athleticism, but if you’re going through intense periods of training or sport, you should consider increasing (or starting!) to get a massage and really help your muscles stretch out.
If you're stressed
Stress is the release of cortisol in our bodies, and studies have shown the massage can not only help combat stress but also anxiety and insomnia-related stress. Getting a massage can help to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, relax your muscles and increase the production of endorphins, your body's natural "feel good" chemical. Serotonin and dopamine are also released through massage, and the result is a feeling of calm relaxation that makes both long-term and short-term stress much easier to tackle.
If you’re going through a particularly high-stress time in your life (for example changing jobs, moving house, divorce) then you should consider getting a massage once a fortnight to help give your body the chance to step out of fight-or-flight mode.
If you're interested in general wellness
Not only is massage good at combating stress, but it’s also a great muscle relaxer. Stress relief alone can improve your vitality and state of mind, which is why so many people incorporate massage into their overall wellness regime.
If you want to do this, you should aim for once or twice a month. This frequency allows you to enjoy all of the health benefits, as well as allowing each massage to build upon the progress of the last, so you’re not effectively starting from a blank slate each time.
If you've got a chronic condition
Massages can help treat conditions such as neck ache, back ache and even migraines.
When engaging in massage for the treatment of a condition, it’s recommended that you have treatments more frequently in order to see relief, usually twice a week for the first six weeks. After this initial period your therapist can work with you to space the massages out without seeing a decline in your progress.
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