One of the MOST frequently asked questions is, “How often should I come in?” Now, while I still believe there is a very personal and individual answer for each unique human, let’s delve into some guidelines that may help. I harp on this concept of “attunement”. Getting to know yourself and what exactly it is you need. We are all in a different place on that journey and it can be hard to know what you need at times. Times when you are grieving, depressed, anxious, these are times when it’s helpful to have an idea of what your frequency could be to aid as a coping strategy in your recovery. I generally have an idea of what my frequency should be when it comes to all of the forms of bodywork/recovery I participate in, but have created a bare minimum standard that keeps me in line with my priorities that can serve me when I’m not sure or don’t know what I need as well.
I started receiving a somewhat regular massage around 12 years ago. Initially I was your classic “wait till everything hurts and I feel like I might die” client. There is no judgment for that version of Tiffany or for you if this resonates. I share this to explain that a 60/90 minute session would provide me with some relief, but soon after I would feel very similarly. I wasn’t taking good care of my body and was expecting a massage every few months to bring me back to life. That was unrealistic. While the massage was helpful, I was operating from lack and deficit and one session every so often was not enough to keep my body in the shape I wanted to operate from. At the time, I was walking dogs, practicing yoga and kickboxing and cycling several times a week. I was taking a LOT out of the tank and not putting enough back in.
Many of us operate from a standpoint that our bodies are separate from us, especially with language like “my body is attacking me”, “why is this happening to my body”, “it just happened overnight”. These feelings are valid, but as it turns out, our body and brain and spirit are a fully integrated unit. Sometimes there is some disharmony in that unit. It can be helpful to shift that perspective to “what does my body need to feel harmony?”. This kind of shift usually doesn’t happen overnight. For me, it was a combination of consistent therapy and bodywork that created an enormous shift in my outlook and my body and my awareness of what I needed to succeed. I never thought that at almost 40 I would be seeking to be a professional pickleball athlete, but life has served me an opportunity and here we are. I’ve always loved pickles, so why not?
Bodywork is not best served a la carte. What I mean by that is what you do at home is of ultimate importance as well. Learning where your problem areas are through bodywork and addressing them with your own activity practices is the ultimate path to healing and thriving. For me this has taken a vast combination of therapies: chiropractic, massage, stretch, physical therapy, acupuncture, dry needling, yoga, pilates, weightlifting, boxing. So. Many. Things. My sense of self and what I need has led me to this diverse array of activities and recovery. Your journey could be completely different, but being open to and curious about what you need is the key ingredient.
So, what does all the above mean? I really want you to work toward knowing what you need and when. It is so empowering to know and trust yourself about your body. You will always know more about yourself than I do, period. This blog is meant to guide you if you are at the beginning of your journey, at the middle, or just want some practical guidance on frequency and timing to consider.
If you are in a high stress environment I recommend a frequency of 2-4 sessions a month. Examples of a high stress environment include: a high stress job, grieving, loss, recovery from injury, experiencing chronic pain, experiencing a musculoskeletal condition, an athlete, experiencing high level anxiety or depression, or any combination of the above (cuz we complicated humans). I wouldn’t recommend anything that I myself don’t participate in. I receive weekly massage, biweekly stretch, biweekly acupuncture and monthly therapy. Is that expensive? You bet. I have come to the conclusion that I am my best investment. My health and well being matter to me more than an extra vacation, remodel of my house, eating out, a fancy car. These are my financial priorities based on my values. You have to decide what yours are and what you value most.
If you are in a lower stress environment I recommend a minimum of 1 session a month. This can help you understand what your problem areas are and can provide you with the fantastic benefits of improved circulation, sleep, mobility, clarity, connection to self. Many times my monthly clients, heck, even my weekly clients will say “I had no idea that was tender” in reference to an area we are working. This is a great way to learn what your movement patterns are and where you need to focus your own energies and practices. Where we feel pain is rarely the area where the pain or dysfunction originates.
If you are unable to afford even a monthly session, then budget a bimonthly session. Having some sense of predictability and scheduled recovery is really impactful for your body and brain. Time gets away from us and we go 6 months, 1 year, even longer sometimes between care. This can create frustration and shame and a slew of other feelings about our bodies.
How much time do I need? This is also a question I field frequently. My recommendation for timing is as follows:
If you ever have any questions about your frequency or how much time you might need, just reach out! I’m here to help be your guide as you grow in your relationship with yourself!