Tuesday, June 9, 2009
How to get the Most out of Your Next Massage
Having a massage therapy treatment can be one of the most relaxing and rejuvenating things you can do for yourself, and a good massage therapist is vital to the success of your
Don’t leave your needs entirely in the hands of your therapist, however. There are many things you can do before, during and after your session to improve the entire experience.
Time – Give yourself an extra 10 to 15 minutes to allow for unexpected delays in traffic on the way to your appointment. There is nothing worse than speeding frantically to your
massage appointment, causing yourself undue stress and anxiety, on the way to a session, which is supposed to be reducing your stress!
Prep – A warm bath, hot tub, infrared sauna, walk, or stretching before your massage appointment can warm and prepare your tissues for massage therapy, allowing your
therapist to work deeper into the muscles almost immediately, thereby giving you the most time possible on the knots that need it the most!
Relaxation – Relaxation is an important part of any massage. There are a few things to consider which allow for greater relaxation.
• Comfort - Make sure you are in a comfortable position. Most therapists have a supply of bolsters, pillows, blankets, and even adjustable massage tables, so if you are too cold, too hot, not comfy on the table, or want to change the music playing, or dim the lights, speak up and let your therapist know so that you can be comfortable during your session!
• Breathing - Another important part of relaxation is breathing. Breathe deeply and fully during your treatment, allowing your body to become heavy and sink into the table. Most people find they can help release muscle tension by focusing or “breathing into” an area.
• Mindfulness – One of the great things about visiting a massage therapist over some other health care providers is the personal attention you receive. Because of this
one-on-one attention, it is common to build a more personal relationship with your therapist, which often means you enjoy the company and discussion almost as much as the treatment. While this can be very rewarding and enjoyable, it might at times not be the most beneficial, especially if your therapist is talking about themselves and their life, and not paying enough attention to what is going on with you! If you are feeling like you need to be more focused
and mindful during your session and your therapist is on a verbal tangent, please tell them nicely to shut it!
It is also important to let your mind relax as well as your body during a treatment. Thinking about all the errands you need to run, or worrying about finances during your massage
therapy treatment won’t help reduce your tension headache!
Communication – I know that I just told you that you might want to hold off on conversation to improve relaxation during your treatment, but sometimes communication is vital.
If you have a question or feedback about your massage, it is important to ask your therapist. Massage is a great way for you to find out more about what is happening in your body: which muscles are tight or painful, or how pain in one area is often due to problems in a separate area. If you are experiencing discomfort or other symptoms during your treatment, please report it.
It is also important to let your therapist know what is happening for you at the start of each session. If you usually have a focused treatment on shoulders and neck, but your low back is bothering you that day, please let your massage therapist know so that they can address the areas of your body that need it the most!
Most massage therapists also have a vast array of techniques that they can use, depending on the condition being treated, so if you feel one technique isn’t working for you, talk about it so that your therapist can find the style that works best for you!
Speaking of techniques, there is a big difference between therapeutic and relaxation massage. Although many therapists love doing focused, therapeutic work, there are times in your life when a relaxation massage is just what your psyche needs. I can literally spend an hour working
trigger points out in one shoulder, but if you need a full body relaxation session on a particular day, just say the word!
Treatment Length – The length of your massage therapy session is an important and often overlooked aspect. If you book a 45 minute appointment once a month, and at the end of each session you are still rubbing your neck, you should consider trying a 60 or 90 minute appointment, to fully release all the tension that builds up through the course of the month.
In times of stress or when you need to relax deeply and fully, a 60, 90 or 120 minute full body massage therapy session may be the most nurturing gift you can give yourself.
Additional Services – The only thing better than a massage is a massage with heat. Heat penetrates into the muscles, increases blood flow, and helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing you to completely relax and get the most out or your massage. Many therapists provide infrared sauna, hot rock or Thermal Palm massage, and heating pads/ blankets. Ask your therapist what options are available, and take your massage to the next level!
You are relaxed and pain free after a great massage therapy session, so what is next on the agenda? If the answer is digging up four old trees in the back yard, lifting hay bales, or going to the gym for an intense work out, you might want to reconsider. It is important to let your body
adjust to the changes made during the session, and allow your body some time in the parasympathetic state to recoup and repair.
Going to work after a massage is OK, as it can actually increase productivity and make your day start off on a good note.
Optimally, a nice walk outdoors, accompanied with water intake, and finished with some gentle stretches or range of motion exercises will leave you feeling amazing!