Massage, a consistent tweak to be at your peak
Updated: Apr 2, 2019
Since childhood I could remember my father always telling me, 'Son, the only way to get better at anything in life is to do it consistently for long enough.' This might have been some of the best advice I can remember from my childhood, little did I know how much it would apply to every aspect of life. Elementary school through college reinforced this philosophy in an academic sense, while all the recreational activities such as martial arts, stage acting, swimming, and video games all came with the same lesson. The realization was, specific consistency leads to the progress you desire.
When I became a licensed massage therapist, I noticed that the best results came from my clients who had a frequency of 3 - 6 sessions per month. While my other client's who came much less often than that had short-term gains but did not show any long-term structural changes. Meaning they might have gotten pain-relief, but the source of the problem in most cases was still present. These results were similar & reminded me of all my experiences with athletic training for my clients and myself. The majority of their/my progress was achieved when they/I were active with a professionally recommended frequency.
You might ask why does the rule of consistently frequent apply to Massage therapy? Well, it is as simple as the work you put into creating something will take some action to undo it. Our habits can lead us to dysfunction, and to fix this we need to loosen the tight muscles while retraining our mind and nervous system to build healthier patterns, so it doesn't happen again. Even if you have been doing damage to your body over a long time, in most cases this is not permanent as long as it is only affecting your muscles.
Remember how everyone knew a mother who said, 'if you make that face it's going to stay that way.' Well, the same is to be said of all muscles, not just the ones on our face. If you spend 8 hours a day always turning to your left, then your muscles that rotate you left will be tighter. If you spend the majority of your time flexing your neck while texting, then you'll experience tightness, pains & headaches from looking forward or up. The list can go on and on, but you get the idea, bad habits can take a while to undo, which may take more than just sixty to ninety minutes on the massage therapy table one time.
Some of the pains you experience can be from the result of your body compensating for an injury. A sprained ankle can lead to lower back pains, neck issues, shoulder pain and more. It happens because once we are injured the body has to retrain the mind & nervous system to protect the injury by compensating for it. In cases like this where a new dysfunction develops, multiple sessions would be needed to treat various issues.
However, when you see your Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) with some consistency, it allows us to get through multiple layers of tissue and fix patterns. Many muscles are responsible for each movement which means your LMT will have their work cut out for them if its only sixty minutes of table time. So if you go to a Licensed Massage Therapist and they suggest to come back with a particular frequency to get them to your goals, listen to them. If they do this and give you stretches, exercises or other proactive homework to help with your goals, then follow their advice, they really care and are doing their best to help. If its money that is the obstacle then ask if they have a treatment package, usually this results in a lower average price per session.
The consistency in your commitment is one of the values in many massage styles such as deep tissue massage therapy, rolfing, sports massage & Swedish/circulatory massage. A large part of the battle is won by showing up, and in some cases, a showing up consistently will help you achieve small goals that lead you to the big goal. Use it or lose it, take care of your body because you only get one in this lifetime and remember most of the time it is best to listen to the professional's advice.