There are few things I love more than a good massage, especially after a few weeks of tough workouts and/or enduring stress that makes you want to scream to the heavens, “Why me?!” After a massage I become a better person. I love myself more. I love my family more. And I love random strangers more (even those who cut me off in traffic).
To me, massage is magic. And the research backs me up. Massage has been shown to reduce fatigue in cancer patients, to lessen the intensity of lower back pain, to boost the body’s immune system, and to lower both blood pressure and anxiety. Again, magical.
Although research isn’t conclusive on enhancing sports performance, some studies have shown that massage can decrease delayed onset muscle soreness, DOMS for short, which is basically just a scientific way of describing how you can barely walk 24 hours after trying a new activity or surviving a tough workout. The key though, is to get a massage pretty quickly after your workout. Although, from my personal non-scientific experiment, massage is wonderful anytime you get one.
Whether you’re a first-time massage-goer or a seasoned veteran, here are some great massage tips from the American Massage Therapy Association on how you can benefit most from your 60-minute slice of heaven.
10 Tips to Get the Most From Your Massage
1. Be open and receptive. This should be a good experience, so roll with it.
2. Don’t chow down before your massage session or go in ravenous. Your tummy shouldn’t be growling or digesting.
3. Watch the clock and arrive early. If you arrive in a frenzied, rushed state, it may take longer to relax, and you’ll miss out on bliss time!
4. Take it all off — or don’t. Take off only as much clothing as you want. If you don’t want to totally strip, wear comfortable clothing that your therapist can work with. I like to get down to just my skivvies for maximum massage area and minimum exposure.
5. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Before the session, give accurate health information, and let the massage therapist know your expectations and reasons for the massage. Let them know if you have any allergies to oils and lotions, and speak up about the music if you don’t like it. Also, while some people like to talk during a massage, others want quiet time. Tell your massage therapist what you prefer, but even if you’re not a chatty Cathy, speak up about any discomfort. If anything happens that you dislike or seems improper, you have the right to ask the massage therapist to stop and end the session if need be. (For me, I’m usually begging them for a little longer.)
6. Just breathe. Breathing helps facilitate relaxation. People often stop or limit their breathing when they feel anxious or a sensitive area is massaged. Just relax …
7. Now is not the time to tighten up. Contracting your muscles during the massage is counterproductive. If you find that your muscles are hardening up (and not from the bicep curls you did yesterday), your therapist may need to adjust the massage technique to help you relax the affected area. If you find your thoughts are racing during the massage, do no. 6 and try to quiet your mind. One good trick is to follow the hands of the massage therapist.
8. Become BFFs with H2O. Guzzle down the bottle of water they offer you after the massage. Those muscles need it!
9. Don’t get up too quickly. Allow for some quiet time after your session. If you’re dizzy or light-headed after the massage, take it slow. There’s no rush.
10. Be prepared to get addicted. The therapeutic effects of massage are cumulative, so the more often you get a massage, the better you will feel and the more quickly your body will respond. I know massages aren’t cheap at more than $1 a minute, but try to indulge multiple times a year. Your fit bottom deserves it!
Do you get regular massages? What massage tips would you add to our list? —Jenn