Some people refer to massage as a "mini vacation". You feel more relaxed, less stressed, more at ease in your body, and happier to just be. And you wish you could stay there just a little while longer. Here are 12 tips to help you make the most of your next massage session and help those vacation-like benefits last a little longer.
Arrive 5 or 10 minutes early if you need to use the rest room, get a drink, or relax a few extra minutes before your session begins. Sometimes people come in straight from work feeling rushed and stressed. You’ll be able to relax better with a few extra minutes to settle in.
Be on time. If you’re late, your session might have to be cut short because the appointment following yours will need to begin on time.
Silence your cell phone. The best relief from muscle tension, pain, and stress happens when you can allow your nervous system to relax. Massage offices tend to be quiet oases set up with lower lighting, soft music and clean comfortable surroundings for this reason. This is your time, you don’t need any distractions. Then again, neither does the client in the adjacent room, so we’ll ask you to silence your phone anyway.
Tell your massage therapist about any new patterns of stress and tension in your body that you’ve become aware of, so that it can be addressed in your session. If you feel you’ll miss out by having a particular area focused on longer, then consider booking a longer session. Or, ask your therapist if they could touch on other areas briefly -- such as arms, face and feet, for example-- if you’re having most of the session time spent on your back.
Be clean. If you were to come to your appointment covered in perspiration right after a workout, or covered in dirt and grime after working in construction or your garden, this won’t work. It’s better to shower first since perspiration, dirt and grime will interfere with lotions used and the ability to apply any massage techniques effectively. You don’t want all that stuff rubbed back into your pores, and your massage therapist needs to be touching clean skin anyway. When in doubt, shower first. The shower facilities at the gym are only for gym members.
Add aromatherapy, or heat or an ocean stone facial massage to your session. The addition of an essential oil or blend is only $5. Scents such as rose, lavender, orange, mint add an extra measure of pleasantness and relaxation or upliftment to a session. Heated flax pillows warm and relax tense, sore muscles.
Exercise before a massage, rather than after. Unless you’re receiving a quick pre-event massage. Your muscles will be too relaxed for a workout, and you won’t feel the motivation.
Breathe deeply, slowly. You can do this during a massage to bring your mind back from distracting thoughts and to help your muscles relax. You can do this after your massage on the drive home or back to work to help release unnecessary mental, emotional and muscular stress and tension you are holding on to.
Drive the speed limit. You’ve probably noticed that most people seem to be driving too fast anywhere you go. Rather than rushing to get from your massage to “point b”, be aware of the speed limit (we all should be driving it!) and drive calmly. Take some deep breaths. Rushing in our cars from place to place causes more stress on our nervous systems and tension held in our bodies.
Skip the caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that causes nervousness and increased muscle contraction. That’s not what you need after a relaxing massage. Water or herbal tea would be better choices.
Between massages, stretch and move those tense tight areas of your body. Try using heat on tight muscles or a cold pack on painful sore areas. Tighten a tense area of your body for five seconds then release it abruptly. Notice tension held in your body and your posture. Do your head and neck lean far forward when working at your desk? Change your work area so that you can work in a more neutral position that doesn’t add any excessive strain on your body.
Schedule your next session before you leave. For the most part, the benefits of massage therapy are temporary. To relieve stress and muscle tension that accumulates from work, exercise, and life, you might find that coming in once or twice a month seems just right for you, as many other people do. Some people come in weekly when they can as massage helps people stay active, productive and less stressed. Often when people wait to schedule their next massage, they forget until they realize they should have done it weeks ago. If you are working to relieve pain and improve mobility such as with carpal tunnel syndrome or after an injury to the shoulder, several weekly sessions are recommended (or at least every two weeks) until adequate pain relief and the ability to be comfortably mobile and active are achieved.