How you take care of yourself immediately following an in-home massage therapy appointment with me can greatly increase the benefits of the massage. Here are some specific massage aftercare instructions.
One of the benefits of an in-home massage is being able to immediately relax in the comfort of your own home afterward. Unless you have specifically requested a Sports Massage as part of your pre-workout routine, massage is meant to relax aching muscles. Getting plenty of rest after a massage will help maintain the relaxation achieved during our session.
At the end of our session, I will likely show you some stretches that can help alleviate pain and keep your muscles in shape. Performing these stretches can improve your flexibility and keep you in better overall health.
Stretching is extremely important before and after a workout. Your muscles need a “warm up” and “cool down” period before any intense work. Stretching can even help keep you from getting an injury. A properly warmed up muscle is less likely to tear or bruise.
Cool down stretches can help release the buildup of lactic acid and other waste products from your muscles before they can cause a knot or trigger point.
Check Your Posture
It’s important to get to the source of the pain you feel in your muscles that cause you to seek out a massage therapist in the first place.
Try to become aware of the way you sit and stand. Consciously straighten your shoulders and square your hips to face what you are working on.
Hydration, Hydration, Hydration
I will tell you to make sure you drink a lot of water following your massage. I don't mean "drink a glass." I mean double your normal intake of water for the next two days.
Part of the healing benefits of massage is the release of built up fluids and waste products from your muscles. This can be especially true if you have trigger points or “knots” in the belly of a muscle.
Increasing your water intake can help speed the flushing of these waste products from your body.
Being properly hydrated also helps keep the fascia (a thin membrane that covers your muscles) nice and lubricated and less likely to cause an “adhesion” or sticky grasp on the underlying tissues.
Anti-Inflammatories as Massage Aftercare
After an intense massage, certain muscles may become inflamed or aggravated. This can be especially true with persistent trigger points in the neck and back. The use of an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) can help reduce the pain and swelling of an aggravated muscle.
Ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) and Naproxen (Aleve) are the best choices for over-the-counter NSAIDs. Tylenol and Aspirin can also help, but may induce some discoloration or bruising to the area as they are also effective at reducing blood clots. You should consult your Primary Care Physician about the use of NSAIDs for muscle pain as you may be taking another medication that could interact negatively.
Bending at the waist instead of the knees to lift objects from the floor, or locking your hip to one side when you are standing for a long period can cause muscles to tense up and ache. Assessing your posture while sitting at your desk can be create a huge improvement in your back and shoulders. Are you rolling your shoulders forward when working on your computer? Are you spending a lot of time flexing your neck down to look at your phone or tablet?