- Karen Stoner, LMT
Massage Tips and Trivia: Massage doesn't have to be long or deep to be effective
"Massage doesn't have to be long or deep to be effective"
There are many reasons that people may not want to get a massage. Two of the more common reasons that people don't get massages are either that they don't have a ton of free time for regular appointments, or they have had a previous massage that was too deep and painful for their preference, so they don't want to go back. However, neither of these should be a deterrent for the benefits of massage therapy.
First of all, the time. While the average time for a massage is around one hour, some massages can last shorter or longer. Just because the massage is shorter than an hour, doesn't mean it is any less effective. Yes, there isn't as much time to focus on every body part, however if you are in a time crunch, perhaps the whole body doesn't need all the attention. If your shoulders and neck are always your problem areas from either holding stress or sitting in front of a computer all day, perhaps just a 30-minute massage focused just on the neck, shoulders, and back is all you need. Even better yet, a 15-minute chair massage would hit those areas and you don't even have to disrobe, which maximizes the appointment time. Even though regular massage on a routine schedule is most effective for long term pain and stress management, sometimes "Something is better than nothing", so even a short massage not on a super strict regular basis can still do a lot.
There is a very common misconception that in order for massage to be effective, it has to be deep. This is very untrue. First of all, what is deep? What one person considers "too deep" may be only breaking the surface on another person. Likewise between therapists, what one person considers deep pressure may be another therapist's medium pressure. There really isn't a standard to classify "deep" and "not deep" pressure. So that being said, pressure is really up to the person receiving the massage, and it is up to the communication between massage therapist and client to determine the best and most effective pressure for the client's needs. Even so, deep pressure is not always needed to make a massage effective. Massage can be lighter and still achieve everything that is needed to be achieved. Plus, even if a "regular full-body massage" is still considered to have too much pressure, there are dozens of different massage modalities that are built around light touch such as Myofascial Release or Lymphatic Drainage. The key is finding the right type of massage and right massage therapist to achieve the goals that you want from the massage.
So as you can see, you don't need a lot for massage to work. Good communication with the therapist on the needs of the massage and how to best make it work for you, wether it is with time or pressure, is the best way to make sure that massage works best for you. Massage is not cookie-cutter, it is very personal and needs to be specially tailored to each person's needs. There is almost always a way to make massage work for each individual.