Just like your doctor gives you “homework,” or at-home care between appointments, your massage therapist should give you ideas at the end each session as to what you can do to take care of yourself between appointments. As a massage therapist, it baffles me that people will so willingly listen to the advice their doctor gives them, but not follow my advice – and then come back at each session complaining of the same pain that brought them to me in the first place.
Following the advice from your massage therapist will ensure that you get the best results from your massage session, and prevent further injury or achiness to your muscles. Keep in mind that your massage therapist can give you as many massages as you’re willing to pay for, but she can’t help you if you are not willing to help yourself. With that in mind, here are some common pieces of advice I give my clients between sessions. These tidbits are good advice regardless of whether or not you’ve just gotten a massage, but if you’re looking to feel better and healthier, doing these things between massage sessions is a must.
Drink Plenty of Water
I could write a whole blog post on the importance of drinking water, and maybe someday I will. For now, I will just say that when your body is dehydrated, many things happen. First, you may experience headaches. When your body experiences pain, your muscles tense up in attempt to protect itself. People who experience frequent headaches typically experience tension in their neck and shoulder muscles. Besides that, when you’re dehydrated you have less urine output, which means that your body is not ridding itself of cellular waste. This waste prohibits muscular function, thereby causing muscular aches and cramps. This waste can also make you sick in the form of kidney disease, as your kidneys are what filter the waste and
Stretching makes your muscles more flexible and increase athletic performance. This flexibility can also reduce injury caused by over extension of your muscles. Stretching can also help reduce muscular achiness.
Besides the obvious health benefits of exercise, losing weight can help take stress off of muscles in your lower back, hips, knees, and ankles. It’s frustrating as a massage therapist to have a client come back time and again complaining of the same pain when I know that there’s only so much massage therapy can do. Excess weight causes a lot of stress on joints responsible for supporting your body when it’s upright. The muscles surrounding these joints become stressed as well, which causes pain a lot of client’s complain about. For some people, illness can prevent steady exercise or weight loss, but for most people, this is not the case. Keeping your body at a healthy weight will help to relieve stress on your joints and muscles, and also decrease your risk of illnesses like heart disease.
Use Proper Posture
We’ve already discussed the importance of using proper posture, and what that looks like. I can’t stress enough the importance of using proper posture. Your ears should be in line with your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. If a line were to be drawn from your ear to your ankle, it should pass through all these points with no deviations. Using proper posture has many benefits, including less muscular stress and tension.
Practice Relaxation Exercises
Allowing yourself a moment of relaxation will reduce the effects of stress on your body. Relaxation exercises include anything that allow your mind and body to release stress. Breathing exercises, meditation, reading a book for a half hour before bed, or even a quiet nature walk all constitute as relaxation exercises. Stress causes bodily tension, and this can be felt in your muscles. Stress also has other side-effects for your health, so it is important that you allow yourself some time to relax, preferably on a daily basis.
Kidneys and Kidney Disease by University of Maryland Medical Center
Short-Term & Long-Term Effects of Stretching by Chris Sherwood
What Happens to Your Body When You’re Dehydrated by Dr. Mercola