Getting a massage is what I think of as a “vacation activity.” One of those things you only allow yourself to indulge in if you’re hundreds of miles away from home and there’s a salty breeze blowing your hair—you know, like eating gelato for every meal or splurging on a pair of impractical sandals because they’ll “remind you of that time in Santorini.” But with purported benefits that include soothing sore muscles and fighting insomnia, maybe I’ve been too quick to judge the self-care habit.
To get the lowdown on how often you really should make time for massage (and, TBH, to give myself permission to schedule a rubdown more than once a century) I reached out to Zeel, a mobile on-demand massage company.
“Before booking, it’s helpful to understand how the different types of massage can help with [issues like] muscle tension, flexibility, range of motion, and even insomnia,” explains Alison Harmelin, the company’s co-founder. “In the same way the right fitness routine can positively affect your overall health and wellness, so can the right massage.”
Of course, there won’t always be room in your monthly budget for weekly or biweekly massages. But if finances are tight, your muscles don’t necessarily have to be. Just ask your S.O. or bestie to roll out the tension in your feet, scalp, and back. Or, invest in a massage ball to ease away all manners of aches and pains.
So whether you have an aching case of text neck from sitting at a desk 24/7, need some serious TLC now that you’re hitting your stride (to the tune of 15-mile runs) with your marathon training, or live with chronic pain, here’s exactly how often a massage therapist recommends adding some time on the table—or for a massage circle with your pals—to your Google Cal.
Keep reading for exactly how often you need to schedule a massage based on your specific wellness needs.
If you’re an expecting mom: biweekly
When you’re pregnant, you likely gain weight, Eva Carey, Zeel’s Director of Massage Thearpy, says. “So a lot of that stress is on your large joints—on your hips and your knees—and lower back.” A massage can help relieve that pressure, helping mamas-to-be sleep better and move more easily. Just make sure you wait until after your first trimester to start booking sessions.
Once you’ve given birth, Carey adds that you’ll still want to make frequent visits to your neighborhood masseuse because propping your newborn up on your hip can throw your back out of whack.
If you suffer from insomnia: weekly
According to Carey, massage can give Ambien a run for its money (okay, maybe not quite…) because of its ability to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (the body’s way of achieving rest and digest mode). So for any of you involuntary night owls out there, this weekly ritual might help you fall and stay asleep.
If you sit at a desk for 40+ hours per week: biweekly or monthly
For 9-to-5ers, committing to a massage schedule gives you a reason to lengthen the appendages you spend all day scrunching up (AKA your neck, legs, and T-Rex arms). “There are issues that you develop over time that you’re not even aware of until you get on a table and a therapist starts to work on you,” says Carey.
If you’re working with an injury: weekly or biweekly
Sidelined with a yoga, spin, or running-related injury? Carey recommends starting out by seeing your therapist on a weekly basis. Then, as you heal, you can start to leave more time in between sessions.
If you suffer from chronic pain: weekly or biweekly
If you’re dealing with ongoing discomfort caused by depression, IBS, or another condition, Carey says that it’s especially important to keep an ongoing dialogue with your masseuse. Therapists don’t have their own agenda, she says, but are there “to facilitate healing and make the client feel great.” So don’t be afraid to be vocal about what hurts and what hurts so good.
If you’re a workout warrior: weekly
Carey says that those who get sweaty on the reg can reap major recovery rewards from sports massage, deep stretching, and deep tissue options that will loosen tight muscle bundles that have formed after hours on the treadmill. And with weekly sessions, you can target specific muscle groups. “If someone is doing a lot of leg work, we can [focus on that area] to assist in recovery after a rigorous workout,” she explains.
If you’re under major stress: weekly
Stress is the nemesis of a good night’s sleep, your gut health, and much more—it’s even been linked to autoimmune diseases. And thus, it makes total sense that setting aside an hour per week is a solid investment in your future well-being.
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