Get The Most From Your Massage


massage-blogCould you be getting more out of massage? In this issue of Bob’s Bones, we make some simple suggestions to make sure each session not only eases pain, increases relaxation and boosts immunity… But also offers a range of benefits you may not even know about.

First time?
If it’s your first relaxing or therapeutic massage, be sure to tell the therapist your reasons for booking. Ahead of the session, ask any questions you have about the process, particularly if you’re nervous. When you arrive and are asked to get ready, remove as much clothing as allows you to feel comfortable.

In sport and therapeutic massage, it’s common for the therapist to leave the room while you undress and dress. A towel is usually left for you to drape over yourself; sometimes it’s a sheet. In any case, it’s customary for the therapist to uncover only the part of the body that’s being worked on.

Eat early before:
Make sure you eat a little while before your massage. You don’t want to lie on the table feeling ravenous, nor do you want to spend an uncomfortable time lying on a full stomach! Eat a light meal a while before your appointment. A piece of fruit, a handful of nuts and a small yoghurt a couple of hours before you arrive is ideal.

Drink lots after:
A massage is quite dehydrating! Indeed, you might notice wanting to use the loo immediately after a session… There’s a reason for that! When your therapist kneads your muscles, it pushes fluid out of your soft tissues. Your circulation then carries it off to your kidneys… And you’re ready to lose some water!

But it’s not just this that makes drinking water after a massage advisable. Whether you realise it or not, your muscles produce metabolic waste as part of their daily function. When your muscles are knotted, however, your circulation restricts and the waste is less easily flushed away. After a massage, the water you drink helps your kidneys process the loosened waste!

Don’t see it as just “a luxury”:
Understandably, some people see massage only as a bit of a treat. But this popular view actually makes very little sense: your muscles endure stresses and strains every day. That wear and tear needs counteracting regularly. So how often is often enough? Well, it depends on whether your massage is part of a treatment programme for injury – but in any case, some people consider one massage a month to be the most indispensable part of their health regimen.

Multiple sessions:
So – while the cumulative effects of numerous massage sessions are undoubtedly better in therapeutic terms, it might be that a masseur asks you to attend a minimum number of sessions. That’s especially true if it’s part of a rehabilitation process. It’s easy to imagine this seeming like a bit of a scam!

When you come to Back in Shape, though – and at any legitimate clinic – sport, relaxation and therapeutic massages really are dedicated to your well being. So if you have any questions about how you’re diagnosed, or about proposed treatments, feel free to ask the therapist! You’re the client: if you don’t feel fully confident then you’re not likely to be able to relax! At Back in Shape, we also offer a free consultation in the clinic to help make sure you feel completely confident.

Be punctual:
The feeling that you get as you relax during a typical massage can sit on a scale anywhere between merely pleasant and absolutely blissful! But it’s much easier to get into a relaxed frame of mind if you’re not dashing about like a lunatic immediately before the session. Give yourself plenty of time.

It’s all about you!
Being comfortable in the therapy room is vital. Some people prefer to start a session with small talk, others enjoy quiet. Many of our clients drift off to soothing music – but some find that distracting! And if it’s too hot or too cold, too light or too dark, then you might not relax as much as you could… Be sure to communicate your preferences before and during the session. That includes the amount of pressure you experience, the rhythm and the speed of the therapist’s touch, etc.

Help direct the session:
It should go without saying that if you don’t like something or don’t feel comfortable, you absolutely should say so. Remember to mention any allergies you might have to oils, powders or lotions before you get underway as well… It’s likely that alternatives are available.

When NOT to get a massage!
When massage becomes part of your regular routine, your communication should include any relevant health updates, such as medicines you’re taking, or recent injuries. As a rule of thumb, you should also avoid massage if you have a cold or the flu – tempting though the idea of a comforting rub down might seem. That’s not just because of the risk that you could pass it on to someone else, though… It’s also because your body is already working overtime to fight off illness! A massage creates additional demands on your body and it’s best not to divert resources. Get some rest instead!

When else?
Had a little tipple? The rise in popularity of the idea of being pampered with champagne in a spa allows many to imagine that drinking before a massage is ideal. It isn’t! In fact, alcohol desensitises some people enough to prevent their accurately feeding back to the therapist about pressure and comfort. So avoid alcohol before the session if it’s part of your health regime rather than a spa-day ‘treat’.

Some people like to use special breathing exercises to help them relax more deeply and more quickly. If you want to find out more, mention it as the session begins. Otherwise, remember to breathe normally. That might sound like a daft thing to say but some people change their breathing habits if they’re tense, or when a sore or sensitive area is massaged.

Get up S-L-O-W-L-Y!
If you feel limp and loose after the session, that’s terrific. If you feel light headed or dizzy… Take it really slowly. There’s no rush. As clients leave our clinic, we also advise them to – in the words of Max Ehrmann – “go placidly amid the noise and haste”! That’s because we all too often see clients arrive in a panic, relax for only about half their session… Then dash off in a new panic to the next thing!

After the massage

There are number of things that people do to make the most of their massage after they leave the clinic. As well as not rushing about, you might want to consider:

A long soak in a warm magnesium bath!
This soothes the muscles even further – read about magnesium in this issue of Bob’s Bones. Epsom salts do the job very nicely but if you have a relaxing bath routine of your own, use that. Just one thing: make sure that the bath isn’t too hot: you don’t want to aggregate any inflamed muscles.

Napping, resting or relaxing to music
Or possibly all three! It’s quite normal to feel fatigued after a massage – and even more so after a hot bath! So why not make the most of it? Spend as much time as you can doing ‘nothing’ after your massage. Listen to music. Ponder! Get in touch with your emotions. Read a little… Doze off. We’re talking about once you’re home, by the way – don’t do these things in the car!

Eat and drink:
In the same way that you ate lightly before the massage, and drank plenty of water, do so again after. Many enjoy a herbal tea and a light, healthy dinner.

What else does massage do?
Aside from helping you to relax and relieve your body of lymphatic waste, massage:

  • Reduces recovery between workouts
  • Boosts your body’s immune system
  • Improves your movement and muscular flexibility
  • Prevents injury
  • Promotes physical recovery
  • Helps correct postural dysfunction
  • Complements other therapies, including physiotherapy
  • Aids sleep

Back in Shape cannot accept responsibility for the consequences of any action or inaction based on its Newsletter or Info Sheets. In particular, of course, those with special dietary requirements such as diabetics should be hugely cautious in relation to information regarding sweet foods such as honey! If you have any doubts or concerns over medical and health issues, our best advice is always to pop in to see us, visit your GP or call NHS Direct on 111 to discuss your health