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Tips for effective self-care to gain the most benefits from your time receiving massage therapy.

Massage Therapy appointments always pass too quickly. Regardless if your session is for prenatal, postpartum, working with an injury or just self-care to escape the daily stressors. We all wish the time spent in a quiet room, with soft music, a warm comfy blanket in the care of a skilled professional massage therapist just didn’t have to end so quickly.

Unfortunately, time flies when it’s blissful. The benefits of the time spent on the table don’t have to resolve so quickly. There are things you can do following your appointment to help your body continue to reap the benefits of your massage and prolong those moments escaping the tension of daily life.

Take a walk- Keep your body in motion

Movement keeps blood flowing through your body, assisting in removing the normal day to day toxins (cellular debris). While washing over the cells in the body with oxygenated red blood cells to keep everything functioning at optimal levels.

Take it outside to give your mind/body a similar sensory experience to you massage therapy. This helps engage you to experience a moment of grounding, calling awareness to the present moment. The birds singing in the trees, the cool breeze on your face bringing the smell of freshly mowed grass to your nose. Each a momentary escape allowing you to reset.

Use a foam roller/tennis ball- Self-myofascial release techniques that can be performed regularly

If your massage therapy is targeted toward a specific medical condition or involves specific myofascial release, daily stretching and foam rolling will help to improve tissue mobility.

A word on fascia:

Wrapping around each individual cell within the body, giving us shape and structure, the fascia is magical tissue. As it grows stronger and more supportive with time, unfortunately it can also work against us, restricting movement. Using a foam roller or variations such as a tennis ball, peanut, high density foam ball, etc. should be frequent and for short periods of time. This will help to lengthen and stimulate the tissue to grow in a way that is both supportive and functional.

“The soul of a man, with all the streams of pure living water, seems to dwell in the fascia of his body. When you deal with the fascia, you deal and do business with the branch offices of the brain.” – A.T. Still M. D.

Stretching and challenging the fascia helps to relieve stress on the nerves. Releasing endorphins similar to receiving massage therapy. Pulsing through our bodies like little lullabies to the cells, asking everything in the nervous system to calm and relax.

Avoid strenuous exercise, focus on quality of movement

Getting off the massage therapy table, slightly unsure what world you exist in is often normal. Your massage therapist lovingly refers to it as “massage drunk.” It’s just those endorphins we’ve been talking about. Everything from the warmth of the table, to the smell of the aromatherapy and the pressure on sore muscles encourages the nervous system to calm and give the tissue space to heal.

Rushing to strenuous activity reactivates those nerves abruptly. Undoing the effects of the massage, while disrupting the healing processes that had begun. Instead, try focusing on the quality of movement.

Examples: Form work with body weight squats, or light work with bands or dumb bells, or even focusing on the specific way your heel hits the ground when you walk.

Massage therapy, especially myofascial release, can be thought of as a reset button for the nervous system. This makes the hours and days following high quality massage therapy a perfect time to improve your movement .

Combine modalities- Mix it up

Heat vs. cold, infrared light vs. red light therapy. Massage therapy holds its very own in the world of health and wellness. In addition to hands on professional body work, other therapies also work with the processes of the body to encourage healing. Which one works best for each individual in a given situation is best to be discussed with your care providers.

A few rules of thumb:

  • If it’s swollen (and you’ve already made sure there isn’t a severe injury): cold and compression.
  • If it’s “tight” (and you’ve already made sure there isn’t a severe injury or disease): head and stretching.

Infrared and red light therapy can be wonderful complements to help manage systemic responses to multiple issues, providing a similar escape from the day that is more cost effective than an hour of massage therapy.

Drink your water

When the therapist says drink lots of water to help flush the toxins, you may have a misconception of what that means. If you conjure images of water washing over cells rinsing away evil little beings set on destroying you from the inside out. Truthfully, drinking water just helps to keep the kidney flushing out from having fluid being moved more rapidly than normal.

Drinking water is especially important when receiving cupping therapy or lymphatic massage therapy. Frequently used techniques in injury or exercise recovery.

Water intake is also especially important during pregnancy when the body requires more fluid to fuel two bodies. Naturally, therapists just want to encourage and support the momma’s they are caring for prenatal and post part massage therapy.

All good things must come an end, but stay hopeful!

No one enjoys how quickly their massage therapy session comes to a close. But with improved self-care the time between appointments doesn’t seem so bad. Work with your therapist to find the best schedule for how often to receive the most benefits of massage therapy for the demands your body faces regularly.