how long should a massage last

How Long Should a Massage Last?

Getting a massage may be one of the most relaxing, comfortable experiences that also revitalizes the body and aids in recovery. Because of this, most massage recipients would like massages to last for as long as possible – hours, preferably. And while this is understandable (who doesn’t want to be pampered for hours?), it’s not always recommendable.

Traditionally, most full-body massages last between 30 to 90 minutes, and there is a good reason for that: if the massage is too short, it offers very little health benefits, but if it’s too long, it may actually help in relaxation a bit too much, to the point of making you feel groggy and cranky. For this reason, most spa centers have something called a “spa hour”, in which the central part – the massaging part – takes about 50 minutes.

In general, if you want a relaxing and rejuvenating full-body massage, without concentrating on any specific painful body area, a 45-60 minute massage is all you need. If, however, you have one or several painful body areas, such as a painful back or neck, you may find that longer massages, which last anywhere between 60-90 minutes, work best. Of course, if you’re pressed for time, you can always get a nice 30-45 minute full-body massage and still experience all the health benefits it offers.

What About Home Massagers?

When it comes to home massagers, it’s a whole different story. Unlike human massage therapists, who can find your painful spots and actually ask you if the pressure feels right, the machine is unable to do so. For this reason, when using home massagers, no matter if they’re massage chairs (excellent for full-body massages), foot massagers, or neck and shoulder massagers, you need to be your own massage therapist. This means:

  • Reading the manual that comes with your massager cover-to-cover (so you can avoid all kinds of problems, including over-heating or over-massaging specific body areas);
  • Practicing basic safety guidelines (for instance, if you massager is electric and not water-safe, you most definitely want to avoid spilling water on/around it);
  • Informing yourself about your problem areas and what massages work best for them (for example, if you have serious back problems, is an intense shiatsu massage really the best way to treat your back?).

Generally speaking, the massages you get from home massagers should be shorter than the traditional massages you would get from a massage therapist. Here is why: to really relieve the pain and other uncomfortable symptoms of tense muscles, massage therapists need to get deep into the tissue and work on the knots. That’s why traditional massages can be quite intense – to get deeper into the tissue, the therapist needs to dig and press, often taking their time for the client’s sake (nobody wants quick and painful massages).

Home massagers tend to be more efficient at getting deep into muscles without causing any unpleasant sensations. So, a traditional massage for a specific body area that would normally take about 20 minutes, should usually last no more than 10 minutes with an electric massager. This is not to say that you can’t get longer massages using home massagers – they can last as long as you want (as long as you’re using the massager per instructions), it’s just that they’re not really necessary.