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Too Busy To Book?? Make Your Massage Benefits Last Between Sessions!

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As a medical massage therapist, I often hear clients say how amazing they feel right after a massage session, only to have their tension and discomfort return after a few days. While regular massage therapy is key to maintaining physical well-being, there are several strategies you can employ to extend the benefits of your sessions and keep your body feeling relaxed and pain-free longer. Here are my top five tips and tricks to make the effects of your massage last between appointments.

1. Stay Hydrated

Why It Works: Hydration is crucial for maintaining healthy muscle function and flushing out toxins released during a massage and Reiki. Additionally, the human body is dependent on a healthy hydration level in order to keep the soft tissue that lines your muscles (fascia) moving easily. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps and stiffness, counteracting the benefits of your session.

How to Do It:

  • Drink plenty of water before and after your massage.

  • Aim for at least 8 glasses of water per day, more if you are physically active or if you've been outside in this heat!

  • "There's water in coffee." AHEM. Avoid excessive consumption of diuretics like caffeine and alcohol, which can dehydrate your body.

Tip: Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day as a reminder to stay hydrated or set an alarm on your phone.

2. Stretch Regularly

Why It Works: If staying hydrated wasn't a crucial part to so many other bodily functions I would say that stretching should be in the number 1 spot! I can ALWAYS tell if my clients are doing their homework between sessions! Stretching helps maintain the flexibility and length of the muscles worked on during your massage. Regular stretching can prevent muscles from tightening up again and reduce the risk of injury.

How to Do It:

  • Incorporate gentle stretching into your daily routine, focusing on areas that tend to hold tension, such as the neck, shoulders, and lower back.

  • Use YouTube to search for stretches that are easy to do, easy to remember, and comfortable for your body! Any good medical massage therapist will usually give you a list of muscles to target for homework.

  • Ideally, hold each stretch for at least 20-30 seconds to allow the muscles to relax fully. But based on your body condition and post-op directions from your doctor, that may vary.

  • Consider activities like yoga or Pilates, which incorporate stretching and help improve overall flexibility.

Tip: Stretching in the morning and before bed can help maintain muscle length and reduce stiffness.

3. Practice Good Posture & Body Awareness

Why It Works: When your body is in the same positions or repeating the same actions repeatedly, it tends to "get stuck" and often leads to poor posture or body mechanics. These can lead to muscle imbalances and tension, undoing the benefits of your massage. Maintaining good posture and body awareness when moving or working helps distribute your body weight evenly, reducing strain on your muscles and joints.

How to Do It:

  • Be mindful of your posture while sitting, standing, walking, or working.

  • Use ergonomic furniture and equipment, such as chairs with proper lumbar support and desks at the correct height. Always lift with your legs.

  • If possible, take advantage of a good physical therapist and/or personal trainer who can help you reveal areas of muscle weakness which may be contributing to chronic pain in the same areas!

  • Take frequent breaks to stand up and move around if you sit for long periods.

Tip: Set reminders on your phone or computer to check and correct your posture throughout the day.

4. Use Heat and Cold Therapy

Why It Works: Alternating between heat and cold therapy can help manage muscle soreness and inflammation, prolonging the relief you feel after a massage. Which is better? Neither one is really better than the other, just be aware of which one you're using and WHY. Are the muscles tight? Poor range of motion? Use heat. Are you experiencing pain and/or inflammation? Use cold. Both? Use heat to relax the muscles and bring healthy inflammation to the area to speed healing, then follow immediately with a cold pack or, at minimum, a topical analgesic (Stopain, BioFreeze, Tiger Balm, etc)

How to Do It:

  • Heat Therapy: Use a heating pad or take a warm epsom salt bath to relax muscles and improve blood flow. Apply heat for 15-20 minutes. Wrap the heat source in a cloth to avoid burns if necessary.

  • Cold Therapy: Use an ice pack or cold compress to reduce inflammation and numb sore areas. Apply cold for 10-15 minutes. Always be sure to wrap a cold pack in a piece of cloth to avoid frostbite. In a pinch, you can use a topical analgesic for quick relief.

Tip: Always place a cloth between your skin and the heat or cold source to prevent burns or frostbite.

5. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Why It Works: A healthy lifestyle supports your overall well-being and enhances the effects of your massage therapy. Proper nutrition, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and the use of relaxation techniques all contribute to muscle health (and mental health!) and recovery.

How to Do It:

  • Consult a nutritionist to evaluate your body's needs against your eating habits to dial in a healthy diet.

  • Engage in regular physical activity to keep your muscles strong and flexible! The only thing worse than overworking your muscles is stiffness due to prolonged inactivity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate movement most days of the week.

  • Prioritize sleep to allow your body to recover, relax, and repair.

  • Try Reiki! Any certified Reiki Master has a toolbox of techniques to help the body and mind relax to promote emotional and physical healing. Reiki works on the principle that many things that go wrong in the body on a physical level, begin at the emotional level (e.g. anxiety that leads to stomach aches or chronic migraines).

  • Incorporate relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness to reduce stress and promote overall well-being.

By following these tips and tricks, you can extend the benefits of your massage sessions and maintain a relaxed, pain-free body for longer periods of time. Staying hydrated, stretching regularly, practicing good posture, using heat and cold therapy, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are all effective strategies to enhance the effects of your massage. Remember, consistency is key, and integrating these practices into your daily routine will help you achieve long-lasting results. If you have any specific concerns or conditions, be sure to discuss them with your massage therapist, who can provide personalized advice and recommendations.

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