Your 30 Minute Massage Session May Be A Waste Of Time
Are you getting massage treatments for pain? If so, do your treatments usually last about 30 minutes? If so, you might want to increase the time. A few new studies are showing that massage therapy may only be effective at 60 minutes during each session, with several sessions per week (2 – 3 times per week). Here’s what you need to know when you’re looking at getting massage therapy:
- One study found that for chronic neck pain, 60 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week may be the best frequency and length of massage. A 30 minute session didn’t lead to any improvements in pain.
- Another study found that getting a 60 minute massage, once per week for an additional six weeks was better in the short term. If you’re serious about massage therapy, it’s better not to stop at 4 weeks. You may need to continue at least once per week for several weeks. However, one word of caution. The results you’re going to get from these sessions typically don’t persist after 26 weeks. The results are usually short term.
- A review study for massage therapy recently looked at all the studies. They came to the conclusion that massage therapy does very little for those with low back pain.
Is Massage Actually Helpful?
That leads us to the question of whether massage therapy actually helps. I may be a bit biased here. I’ve worked with well over 40 massage therapists in my years of practice. I can tell you that the patients always raved about their massage therapy. It was like an addiction for them. If you’re getting massage therapy for any sort of pains, here’s what you need to look at if you’re really serious about getting better:
The ‘type’ of massage therapy may have as much to do about your results as the time. I’ve also had the privilege of getting massaged by many therapists. Some were too soft. I didn’t feel like i got anything out of it. Others were very aggressive. It felt great when I was getting it, but I couldn’t move the next day! Some massage therapists will focus on one area for the entire session, while others will do a general massage. As you can see, you need to pick the right type of massage for your case. Do you have headaches and need your neck massaged? You probably don’t need 60 minutes if your therapist is going to spend all their time on your neck. If you have pain all over your back, you may need 60 minutes.
Massage therapy by itself will generally not give you the relief you’re looking for. I hate to say this, and I know a lot of massage therapists are going to be upset. However, I’ll say the same thing about chiropractic or physical therapy. A comprehensive treatment usually provides better pain relief. That’s because everyone is different. Not every person is going to respond the same to every treatment.
Most of your pain may be due to trigger points. These are what you may also know as ‘muscle knots’. If you have pain, your massage therapist should be examining you for trigger points, and then treating them. This is usually through pressure with their thumbs over the spots. I’ve found some therapists to be quite good at this, while others aren’t. If you have any sort of muscle pain, you’ll need to see if your pain is coming from trigger points. Working on these first will, in most cases, lead you towards some form of pain relief.
Whatever your reason for going for massage therapy, just note that research is not showing much promise. However, the research also doesn’t take into consideration the skill level and type of treatment being provided. Those are things that will always be difficult to control. If you want to find out more about trigger points, you can check out out our Beginner’s Guide to Myofascial Trigger Points.
Image: courtesy of flickr