EXTENDING THE BENEFITS OF MASSAGE
Massage is a powerful antidote to stress. It improves circulation, reduces blood pressure, strengthens the immune system & relieves muscle tension. But beyond the immediate benefits, there's a lot that can be done post-massage to continue to reap the benefits, and it’s important to be in the know. We asked our Assistant Treatments Manager Erika Still for the inside scoop on the best possible post-massage care to keep the benefits going.
What are the benefits of post-massage care for keeping muscles relaxed?
Post massage care is important for extending the benefits of the massage past the treatment time. This can be in the form of mental and/or physical awareness. Being conscious of how we are caring for our bodies on a regular basis is extremely important. Just taking extra steps to be mindful of our posture or dietary intake after a massage will make a big difference.
Can you recommend some easy things that people can do after a massage session to maintain muscle relaxation?
The first easy thing is to stay hydrated! Room temp or cool water is best to ensure your body is being replenished after therapeutic body work. Massage therapy can move a lot of things around the body and in some cases may release build up that has become stagnant in muscle tissue. This is a good thing! However, it is important to provide your body with proper hydration to ensure it's working at its peak efficiency. Properly hydrated muscle tissue responds better to the effects of massage therapy both before and after the massage.
Second, be mindful of your body! Falling back into poor posture, or bad habits like slouching or holding your shoulders forward can just undo a lot of the progress your Massage Therapist has made. Be aware, make changes where appropriate. Being tied to our electronic devices at all times can create a lot of poor postural habits, and sometimes just correcting those positions will prolong the benefits of the body work that you received.
Third, stretch & move! Being sedentary is one of the worst things someone can do for their body. Keep that circulation going, and keep your joints mobile! Try to incorporate a daily stretch every morning, and again mid day. The more you move, the less restricted your body will feel.
Are there any specific products or tools that people should use after a massage to help their muscles stay relaxed?
There are a lot of products on the market designed for home massage care, but I feel the superior option is to utilize a percussion tool. Myself and many fellow Massage Therapists find benefit in utilizing the Hypervolt Hyperice percussion device to help provide rapid and effective muscle relaxation to specific areas of the body. It's simple to use, and often times 5-10 minutes can provide a great benefit and help to free up any tension from stress or physical ailment. It's even great on the go and can travel easily.
How long do the muscle relaxation benefits last after a massage, and how often should someone incorporate post-massage care?
This varies greatly. It is entirely dependent on the condition the muscle tissue was in prior to the massage, as well as the type of massage therapy performed. Both Swedish and Deep Tissue style massage have great benefits, but they provide different therapeutic results. It is important when seeking out professional massage therapy that you discuss your needs with your Massage Therapist to determine what is best option for you.
Regardless of how long it's been since your last massage, The key points of staying hydrated, as well as being aware of posture and bad habits, will allow your body to be in better shape for your next massage. Hydrated muscles = happy muscles. Better posture and mindfulness = less muscle tension and strain. The more you stay mobile, the less likely your body is to become stagnant and stiff.
So, in short...post-massage care should be incorporated every day! It's all about creating a healthy body, physically and mentally. Sometimes even creating these small areas of awareness and self care can do a lot for our mental health as well. After all, massage therapy is beneficial for body, mind, and soul.
Are there any common misconceptions about post-massage care that you would like to address?
What many fail to realize is that muscle tension builds up over time, and is not something that typically occurs overnight. You have to respect the recovery to work the same way. While one massage can provide some instant relief and relaxation, it is imperative when dealing with a chronic tension or ailment, that you seek out massage therapy regularly to maintain healthy muscle tissue. That same misconception occurs regarding post-massage care. Many people may feel that they did all the "tricks" after a massage but still felt tight again the next day. Everything takes time, and it is all about creating healthy routines and habits to maintain optimal health and healing. When you incorporate post-massage care regularly, it will allow your body to enjoy the effects and benefits of your future massages for a longer period of time.