6 Ways to Maximize Massage Benefits
Book enough time. It’s best to get a massage as frequently as possible, even if it’s once every six weeks. All your muscle tightness and pain can not be totally worked out in one 60 minute session, as you’re constantly living, breathing, and moving your body. This is why if you are looking for lasting therapeutic relief, especially if you have multiple areas of pain, an hour may not be enough time to effectively create change. Longer sessions allow time for more focused work, muscle testing and stretching. Let your therapist know if any specific areas are giving you trouble so they may tailor the timing of the massage to address your concerns efficiently.
Speak up. During the massage, you shouldn’t be afraid to tell your therapist if something they are doing is uncomfortable, the pressure is not right, or if you have a question about what they are working on. Massage therapists are often intuitive, but we can’t read minds. Make sure to communicate any distractions. You can’t relax if you’re not comfortable. Is the music too loud or the room to cold? Let your therapist know if something isn’t working for you, oftentimes it’s an easy fix.
Relax. Most of us spend our entire day in doing-mode, focused upon tasks to push productivity. On the massage table, relaxation is defined as a letting go of the need to do anything, including within the mind. Any thoughts about what you’re doing later, what you did earlier, or what you have to do next week need to cease. The body takes its cues from the mind. The most effective place for the mind’s attention during massage is on the sensations in the body — the feeling of the sheet on your skin, the warmth of the breath expanding in the lower belly, the melting away of tension as the therapist kneads your muscles.
Breathe. Turn up your breath in tough spots. When an area feels tender, the tendency is to hold the breath as a protection mechanism, when in fact the healing thing to do is to deepen and increase the breath. This will allow the tension to be softened and dissolved. Holding the breath simply holds the tension. If you are increasing the volume of your breathing and the intensity is still overwhelming, then just let your therapist know you that you need to lighten up in that particular spot.
Stretch. Although it would be fun to follow you around, give you treatment and remind you of your therapeutic exercises all day long, we can’t. Our time together is very short, minutes a day, a week, a month, or even longer. The “homework” your therapist gives you is designed along with your treatment plan to help you resolve your pain and dysfunction by combating muscle memory and bad body behaviors. If you are not good about remembering to do the recommended stretches throughout the day, try setting an alarm on your phone for everyday around the same time that says “Stretch Pecs”, “30 second Quad Pull”, or “Neck Stretches”- whatever it is that your therapist suggests could use the extra care.
Hydrate. Massages can be taxing on the body. Kneading and working muscle gets blood and fluid pumping to areas that have been tight and dysfunctional long enough to squeeze off their own blood supply. Every cell in the body makes metabolic waste that is regularly flushed out by the circulatory system and filtered through the kidneys. However, if the blood supply was diminished, not all of the metabolic particles have been cleared out. Once the muscles have released fluid rushes in and cleans up. Drinking plenty of water eases the sudden load put on the kidneys. Besides, hydrated muscles are happy muscles.