There are few things more relaxing or rejuvenating than a great massage. After your massage you feel nice and relaxed, and perhaps a little bit sleepy … you chose to have a massage to ease those achy muscles, de-stress after a busy day, or speed up your recovery time, and now you feel amazing.
But how do you keep that lovely relaxed feeling long after the massage has ended? Here are my best tips for at home self-care.
Firstly, Hydration is Key
I offer all my clients a glass of water at the end of their treatment, and it’s not just a refreshing bonus. Our bodies are made up of approximately 60% of water, and a massage can flush out the toxins that have built up in the body.
It’s important to keep the cells hydrated so they can do their job properly. Without water, the lymph system becomes sluggish, which can leave us feeling fatigued and compromise our immune system. Staying hydrated will keep your body and muscles relaxed, flush out those toxins and prevent headaches.
Remember to Rest
While sometimes it’s unavoidable, try to book your massage for a time when you know you can go straight home and relax. Put your feet up, read a book, watch some TV, have a nap…whatever helps you to continue to feel good and helps to prolong that calm feeling of wellbeing.
Resting will also allow your blood pressure to return to normal, as it will often drop during the massage.
Listen to your body. If you feel like an early night, go for it. If you want to stretch out on the couch, do it. Your muscles have just been worked and manipulated (similar to an intense work out). Allow yourself time to recover, repair and balance yourself.
Stretching is important
You’ve heard never stretch a cold muscle and we understand stretching after exercise is best. The muscles have been worked, and the friction and pressure applied during a massage create heat in the muscles. This warmth is a great opportunity for reaping the benefits of static stretching (improves flexibility and overall muscle tone).
Make stretching a habit in your daily routine. It will help you with any muscles aches, soreness and lymph flow, and the effects of your massage will last longer too. Stretching daily will help to support the work the therapist has done to relax your muscles during each session.
Find a good time to spend a few minutes stretching each day. Ease into stretches gently and hold for 30-45 seconds. For example, touch your toes, raise your arms over your head and bend side to side to engage your abdominal obliques, then hold these poses. Alternatively, a foam roller or a strategically placed tennis ball can decrease tightness and help maintain progress in-between appointments.
Soak in the Bath
There is nothing better than sinking into a nice warm bath after a massage. Epsom salts are an excellent addition for a boost in detoxification. They contain magnesium which is useful for keeping any muscles soreness, aches and pains at bay as well as helping with stress. Just be cautious of water temperature. If it’s too hot, you risk increasing inflammation.
Adding Epsom salts to your bath will soak that tension and stress away after a busy day, so pop on some chill-out tunes to keep the atmosphere going, and use moisturising, natural products to avoid drying out the skin.
And, if you don’t have a bath, a warm shower can be just as good.
Hot and cold therapy
Depending on the type of injury you have, adding heat or ice to the muscles can relieve any inflammation, tightness and tension.
Heat can also improve and stimulate blood flow to the area. Try a heat pad, hot water bottle or heat up a damp towel in the microwave using 30-second intervals to check the temperature. You can even soak in the bath for extra relaxation.
Cold therapy is good for strains, sprains and other minor injuries. If you are having trouble with inflammation (including swelling), you should ice the area instead. Take a cold pack (or you can use a frozen bottle of water, or frozen vegetables in a bag) and wrap it in a towel to avoid cold burns. If you are using a frozen bottle as a cold pack, a thick sock works well as a barrier. Apply to the swollen or inflamed area for about 10 minutes, leave it for 10 minutes and repeat if required. If you have been overdoing it and have sore feet, try rolling the frozen bottle under your foot.
Each of these little things can help you to get the best out of each treatment. More importantly, it can help you to keep the benefits going for longer — and we all like value for money, right?
Finally, it’s good to talk if you need to. If you have a question, query or concern, talk to your therapist. If something has changed in your health or your body, let your therapist know. It doesn’t matter if this is good or bad feedback, it will help the therapist adjust any future treatment so you can get the most out of every massage.
Self-care: Attitudes and actions that contribute to happiness, balance and well-being.