Massage 101: Managing your Massage Expectations

You’ve been meaning to go in for a massage for a while now.  You’ve been feeling a pain in your neck that started at least 2 months ago (that you can remember) but you keep putting it off getting it looked after as life is just too busy right now.  The day has come and you can’t take the pain any longer and you book a massage.  The massage was great and your neck has definitely improved but it’s still aggravating you.  It continues to bother you however, you don’t have another treatment booked and you’re a little confused as to why your neck still hurts even after getting a massage.  Does this sound familiar?

I’ve encountered this many times as a therapist. Patients who’ve had issues for a while but are confused as to why they still have pain after only getting one treatment.  I want to set the record straight here.  While I would love to say that I have magic hands, I’m definitely no miracle worker!  It would be amazing if I could say that it will only take one treatment to alleviate all nagging symptoms, but it’s usually not the case.  I go with the rule that if something took a while to get as bad as it was when you came in for treatment, then it will usually take more than one treatment to undo the damage.  Like many other forms of treatment, for example physiotherapy, chiropractic and acupuncture, it can take multiple treatments to get your body back into working order.

How many treatments you ask?  Well that’s a great question.  Often, it’s hard to tell how many treatments it will take especially after only one treatment.  I usually try to book a patient within one week after the initial treatment to see how the patient responded to the massage.  Once I see how effective the initial massage was, I can get a better idea of what type of  treatment plan should be put in place.  The frequency will be dependent on how severe the injury is.  A post op patient I may initially see 1-2x/week for 4 weeks or I could see a person with neck tension from sitting at a desk all day 1x/month for general maintenance.

An added tip to help out in your recovery process is to make sure to do your self-care.  Your self-care can go a long way!  This extra “homework” can potentially help to reduce the frequency of visits and speed up your recovery.

By Karen Kingsley
Registered Massage Therapist
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Massage Therapist Karen Kingsley