What is the right or optimum session length? Can a session be too long or too short? Is longer better?
The question of session length comes up quite frequently. Unfortunately there isn’t an easy answer to the questions. A lot depends on your reason for getting a massage, what issues you have or don’t have to work on, and how your body responds to the massage session.
Massage sessions usually come in half-hour chunks, 30-minutes, 60-minutes, and 90-minutes. Here are my thoughts on the different lengths and when to get them.
30-Minute Sessions – These sessions are short and to the point. Don’t expect to get a full body massage during this time frame. During this time you can focus on one area that is really bothering you. Another good use of a 30-minute time frame is dealing with one specific chronic pain problem. Coming in frequently for a shorter amount of time allows the therapist to do detailed work on an area and build on that work during multiple session to help alleviate the imbalances causing the chronic pain. A 30-minute sessions is NOT the ideal length for stress reduction. Research has determined that it takes at least 30-minutes for the nervous system to switch into rest and relax mode. You won’t get any lasting relaxation benefits from a short session.
60-Minute Sessions – During this amount of time, you can get a decent relaxation and stress-reducing full body massage, however it may not be long enough to allow the therapist to fully work out areas of tension unless you focus on just one area such as the back, neck, and shoulders. This time frame is useful for addressing a chronic problem in more detail, especially if the issue involves more than one structure or place of imbalance.
90-Minute Sessions – These sessions allow complete relaxation and tension reduction. You get the needed 30-minutes to wind down the brain and still have the full hour to let your body completely relax. This time frame also allows for an in-depth rebalancing of chronic areas while still allowing time for some of the nicer relaxing parts of massage.
120 Minutes (2 Hour) Sessions – This length is good for someone suffering from chronic pain conditions that involve the nervous system, such as fibromyalgia. The entire body can be worked as in depth as necessary, while also taking the time to calm and sooth the nervous system, bring about increased circulation and quiet the mind.
We already touched on how a session could be too short for your needs, but is it possible to get a session that is too long? Surpisingly, the answer is yes, for two reasons. When the body is in pain, or has a lot of tension, too much work to that one area can end up having the opposite effect. The right amount of work can soothe the system and bring about a release of tension, but when that amount of work becomes too much, the body begins to go into protection mode and the area will actually tighten back up again. It is possible to overwork an area and by doing so, cause more harm than good.
The other reason that a session can last too long is one based purely on preference. If your body only needs 60-minutes to get your desired result, but you book a 90-minute session, often your therapist will fill that extra half hour with repetative strokes, or reworking areas that don’t need the attention. These filler strokes, and holds will use up the time, so you get the full time you booked, but they are just fluff that your body didn’t really need in the first place.
So, how do you choose the proper amount of time? That is where your therapist can help. Talk with them about the issues you may be having and your goal for the massage session. While we would all love for time and money to not be an option when it comes to massage, those play a factor as well, so be sure to let your therapist know if either of those will be a constraint to the session you book. Ideally, you will want to book a session that gives you results, not just money for time. That is where Body Balance Spa comes in, I am adjusting my services to be a time range, and I will work with you to ensure that you are getting a massage within that sweet spot of need and desire. Time is a valuable commoditiy, and if you can achieve your desired goal in a shorter amount of time, then it’s a win-win for both of us. I also stand behind my services with a 100% satisfaction promise. I promise that each session you recieve will have been worth both the time and money you spent.