Massages can help:
- Relieve chronic pain
- Reduce the effects of stress
- Lower blood pressure
- Speed recovery from injuries
- Optimize an athlete’s game
Wellness and RelaxationEven for the healthiest person, massage offers major benefits like:
- Calming the central nervous system
- Increasing circulation
- Elongating tight muscles
- Loosening toxins from the tissues for elimination
- Boosting immunity
For those who work in a high-stress environment or have daily activities that risk causing repetitive-motion injuries or postural issues, weekly sessions might be best. Keep in mind that the effects of regular massage are cumulative, and spacing them too far apart might leave you back at square one every time.
Optimizing Athletic PerformanceFor athletes, massage can both enhance performance and reduce the risk of injury by balancing muscle groups and increasing joint mobility. The process of lengthening contracted muscles and releasing myofascial adhesions is rarely a one-shot deal, and serious athletes may need two or more sessions a week to stay in top shape. Many professional teams have therapists on staff for that very reason, but the more casual athlete may not have the resources to be massaged that often.
For the average athletic person, it depends on your training schedule and whether or not you haven chronic muscle issues. One or two massages a month may be enough during lighter training periods, increasing frequency as workouts intensify.
Never schedule deep tissue massage less than five days before a big event. It can cause soreness and changes in body mechanics that can throw you off your game. Stick with circulation-boosting massage such as Swedish or Abhyanga immediately before and after a big event—it helps flush out lactic acid build-up and speeds recovery.
Pain ManagementOverly contracted muscles often cause chronic pain, from migraine to sciatica, and more. In general, weekly sessions are recommended, but much depends on how you feel. If your pain starts to return within a few days, it’s time for another massage. If you are still pain free a week later, maybe you can spread your sessions out.
Most people find that they need more frequent sessions to start, slowly decreasing frequency as their muscles elongate and relax. Some therapists will also suggest stretches you can do at home to maintain muscle balance longer between sessions.
Injury/Surgery RecoveryMassage is often recommended after injury or surgery. It can help:
- Reduce pain, minimizing the need for pain medication
- Inhibit swelling by moving lymph
- Break up scar tissue
- Hasten the healing process by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen
Making it AffordableThe biggest deterrent to routine massage is usually the cost, which can vary on average from $60 to 125 per hour, depending on where you live and your therapist’s qualifications. Always look for a state or nationally certified therapist with a minimum of 500 hours training. “Bargain” massages with a poorly trained therapist may not give you the full benefits you seek, and worse yet, could result in injury.
It’s rare for health insurance to cover massage, but not unheard of, so check your current plan. If you are seeking massage for disability or accident rehabilitation, and you have a referral from a doctor or chiropractor, you may be able to get reimbursed. Physician-prescribed massage is also often an acceptable expense for health savings plans.
Most reputable practitioners, spas, and wellness centers offer either membership plans or package deals with deeply discounted prices. Don’t invest in one until you’ve found a therapist you like, but once you do, it’s well worth it. The mind and body benefits you receive may save you from more costly medical expenses in the long run.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.
Visit the Chopra Center for a massage treatment of a lifetime. Our specially trained Ayurvedic therapists customize each treatment using herbal-infused oils and massage techniques to balance your unique mind-body type. Schedule your Ayurvedic Massage Treatment today and enjoy a massage unlike any you’ve ever experienced.