One of the questions I’m most often asked by clients is ‘How often should I have a massage?’ I have to say, I find it quite a strange question. It’s like me asking a pâtissière, How often should I eat a slice of cake? ‘Every day!’ is surely the only answer. If I had the time and money, I would get a massage every day or certainly every other day. And I’d eat cake every day too – well, I do that in any case.
If your body is under stress – either because you are not using it enough and instead spend too many hours at a desk, or because you are using it a lot and working out or playing sport four or five times a week, then for sure you are going to benefit from a massage. The people who come to me regularly – by which I mean, once every month or so – are the ones who see massage as part of their routine for body maintenance. They exercise, run, swim, gym, whatever, and they maybe do yoga or pilates, and they come to see me just to enjoy breaking down some of the inevitable tensions that build up in the body. They want me to work on those tensions, the aches and pains that afflict all of us, the little niggles that hold back performance, the overused muscles that need stretching or pummelling.
Most of us aren’t like that. We hold the tension and just get used to areas of stiffness and don’t realise that our muscles are getting more and more contracted and our range of movement, more and more restricted. People feel achy but they put up with it. It’s only when they get down on the massage table and I work on them that they realise how badly they need a massage.
This morning in Islington I worked on a male client who was training for the Ironman triathlon – that’s a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bicycle ride and finishing with a 26.22-mile marathon run (without a break). He asked me how often he should come for a deep-tissue massage. ‘Every day,’ I said. He smiled and said, ‘Yes, but really, how often?’ Every day, I repeated. ‘That would be great, but I’m not a rich man,’ he said. So I told him that I would treat him for free for 15-20 minutes every day until his Ironman triathlon – I was sure that it would both improve his performance and get him through without injury. And it would be an interesting experiment for me. He agreed and so he’ll be back again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day...
Still, I do think people who do the Ironman need their heads examined. But fortunately that’s not my line of business.