After our magical wedding, when Tracy and I were in Terranea for our “Minimoon,” we each enjoyed our customary hour and a half massage before lounging at the spa pool looking out at the clear-blue sky and pacific ocean, snacking on some crostini with edamame hummus. And in order to make the most of the experience, the steps shared here in Body Designs 216: Tips for having a great Massage really helped elevate the experience.
Now, for those of you who enjoy the occasional rubdown, you already know of their many health benefits such as better blood circulation, increased immunity, reduced muscle soreness and improved sleep. But, what might not be so well know are the steps one should take before, during AND after a treatment that will enhance these effects.
First, believe it or not, the timing of the massage is crucial to the goal you want for your body. Studies done on brain waves have shown that early morning massages, when you are already wide awake, may make you feel more alert and invigorated after a massage. Conversely, if you are hitting the spa later in the day, your brain waves can shift, preparing you for a more restful night’s sleep. So when you call to schedule your appointment, be mindful of the overall effect you are looking for, take a couple of deep breaths, relax and enjoy.
Another key to an effective massage is to be hydrated prior to your appointment. Since massages stimulate digestion, you don’t want to eat or drink anything immediately before getting on the table for obvious reasons. But planning a few days ahead and staying especially hydrated will help your therapist as well as your body. When muscles are hydrated, they are more pliable, making it easier for them to be manipulated and stretched. The result will be a more effective, deeper massage. However, to ensure there are no “accidents”, a pitstop to the restroom will limit any inconvenient disruptions.
THE DAY OF
A great first course to a day of pampering should also include hitting the gym. Whether the spa and fitness facility are at the same location, it is hard to argue that there is a better muscle warm up than a muscle pump or a sweaty bout of cardio. But please remember to shower after your training session. Your therapist and your body will thank you as a warm washing of the muscles will help keep them supple and you body clean of odors. A word of caution, DO NOT hit the gym immediately after your treatment. Your muscles will be too pliable and will be prone to injury if you stress them too soon your appointment. In fact, it is best to wait anywhere from 12 to 24 hours before getting back on your fitness routine.
Speaking injures, if at any time during your session you feel like the pressure being applied is too much, don’t be shy; let your therapist know. A good technician will appreciate the feedback and adjust accordingly. Also, if there is a specific area you would like focused on, make that known as well. If you wait to see if it will be attended to eventually, you may be mistaken and before you know it, your session will be over. But don’t hold your breath when your muscles are being manipulated, even if it is on particular tough knot. It is more effective to make full and deep breaths to oxygenate your blood supply to loosen tight muscles.
After the massage, continue to drink more water. I know it is tempting to have a latte or some wine to continue the relaxation experience. However, caffeine and alcohol AS WELL AS massages themselves serve as diuretics; but water after a massage helps the kidneys process the toxins that were released into the body during your session; rehydrating you and building healthy muscle tissue by removing metabolic waste that was present.
Now, as we all who love massages they are a great special treat. However is that all they should be? While a massage a couple times a year is indeed a nice treat. However, if it is that infrequent, that is all it will be if it isn’t followed up with consistency. For any real benefit to be seen, it is recommended that weekly sessions from 30 to 60 minutes are necessary.
So, the next time you go for a massage, even if it isn’t tomorrow, remember Body Designs 216: Tips for having a great Massage and breathe!
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