For so many of us, a massage is an incredible way to relax, destress and give some much-needed attention to our hardworking bodies. It’s a method for healing and nurturing injuries and strained parts of our musculoskeletal system.
If you’ve been to see a licensed massage therapist, they may have given you a suggestion for when you should see them again. Depending on what you’re seeing them for, they could recommend multiple visits a week, once every six weeks or anywhere in between.
But have you wondered: Is too much massage harmful? Here’s what you should know.
How Often Should You Receive Massage Therapy?
Before we get into answering the question “is too much massage harmful,” it’s helpful to understand how often you can get a massage.
The frequency in regards to how often you should get certain types of massage usually relates to what you’re treating and how you’re treating it, but also your medical health.
Certain conditions mean that you need to wait longer between massages, while others — mostly pain management-related — can be a good reason to have them more frequently.
Here’s a brief rundown of how often you can have different massage techniques:
Lymphatic Drainage Massage
This massage is typically used after surgery or to treat medical conditions like lymphedema. It encourages the lymph nodes to drain, releasing fluid and metabolic waste. The frequency usually depends upon the need and often begins with daily treatment, and will gradually decrease to two or three times a week.
Deep Tissue Massage
This type of massage is most often used to treat specific muscle injuries and reaches deep layers of muscle and layers of tissue. Depending on the injury, you can have daily or weekly massages.
Because it is mostly used for relaxation, mental health and physical maintenance, most massage therapists recommend it once a month.
You can use a massage chair for 20 minutes a day.
Depending on how you’re using your massage gun, you should stick to 30-60 seconds per session for up to 15 minutes per day during a self-massage.
Is Too Much Massage Harmful?
Well, if you’re asking yourself “is too much massage harmful,” you probably have great health insurance or use self-massage techniques and tools. And the answer is yes, it can be.
Massage is more than just feeling good: it triggers chemical change, blood circulation, movement of lymph fluid, among other things. In order to allow your muscles, tendons and ligaments to heal, you need to give your body time to do what it does.
Massage can also trigger delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is the same thing you feel after you’ve put in a good workout. It’s your body responding to the inflammation as it heals.
While the instinct may be to massage, there are a few other things you can do to manage your sore muscles, including staying hydrated, stretching, using heat or cold therapy, essential oils and topical treatments and, of course, rest.
The best way to know if you’re having too many massage sessions is to talk to your massage therapist, physical therapist or health professional.
It’s always important to consult your massage therapist if you are pregnant, have any health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, or fever due to cold or flu, as well as disclose any previous injuries.
These things don’t necessarily mean you cannot have a massage, but they often require your massage therapist to adjust their techniques.
We all know that massage can get expensive. However, working with your massage therapist, you can make a plan that works for you, stretching out the time between massages and utilizing techniques that they teach you so that you can continue care and massage at home.
A lot of people, including some massage therapists, really believe in the “no pain, no gain” approach. While pain or discomfort can be a normal part of a massage, especially methods like deep tissue massage, the pain shouldn’t be unbearable.
Think of it in terms of the good tension you experience when working out, and anything beyond that is very possibly causing more damage.
A lot of people push their pain threshold to the limit when doing self-massage. That pain might be telling you you’re running over bone or nerve bundles, and this can cause damage like neuropathy in the long run.
It’s also possible to over-stimulate the muscle, leading to fluid build-up in the muscle tissue.
Maximize Your Massage
While we’re on the subject of “is too much massage harmful,” you may be interested to know how to extend the benefits of your massage.
While certain types of massage are geared towards healing things like sports injuries and acute damage, if you’re using massage for chronic pain, these tips may help improve the post-massage experience and long-term outcomes.
Set aside a chunk of time, like a full afternoon instead of an hour, to get your massage so that you can take full advantage of the benefits both physically and mentally. Going right back into a stressful workday can undo it all.
Eating a healthy meal will help continue the feeling of relaxation and healing, but the long-term benefits of eating healthy are ones we are all familiar with. A healthy diet can help our bodies to heal and get our internal systems in working order.
Massage is dehydrating, and drinking enough water before and after a massage can help to minimize muscle soreness after your massage. Water also helps to flush toxins that are released into your system from the massage, so making sure you’ve drunk enough keeps things moving as they’re meant to.
Avoid strenuous activity
Getting back to the gym or engaging in other highly physical activities right after your massage can undo all of the effects of your massage. If you feel the urge to be active, try yoga or stretching.
Set the mood
We tend to enjoy our time on the massage table, but as soon as it’s over, we tend to rush back to our normal lives. Keeping that feeling of relaxation going will help you to reap all the benefits. Treat yourself to a nice lunch, enjoy a cup of tea, listen to some easy music and spend some time doing a light activity that you enjoy.
So, is too much massage harmful? The answer is yes, it can be. The best way to answer this is to listen to your body and talk openly with your massage therapist.
Don’t prioritize pain: it often won’t heal you in the way that you believe it will. Give yourself time between massages to rest, heal and enjoy the benefits. And, before you start feeling that tightness or pain, book your next massage.