How to Support, Extend, and Sustain the Benefits of Massage
In the last several weeks, I have been asked the question "how often should I get a massage?" a bit more often than usual. Perhaps it's because many of my clients are setting intentions, goals, and plans around their health routines for the upcoming year. It is question I don't have a blanket answer for. How often someone should receive a massage depends on a number of variables such as the person's lifestyle, health needs, and whether or not they are receiving additional complementary bodywork modalities such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and physical therapy. However, massage benefits can be cumulative and the effects are more likely to endure if you receive massages regularly. For some people it's every week or two, for others every four to six weeks is sufficient for preventative care. If someone has a specific condition or injury that is being addressed by massage, multiple sessions in the same week may be necessary.
You can also support, extend, and sustain the benefits and effects of massage though the following self-care practices:
Drink plenty of water-- As many of you know, my post-massage mantra is always "be sure to drink lots of water the rest of today!" The reason for drinking plenty of water is that massage opens up tissue restrictions, and in doing so releases impurities that need to be flushed from your body. Hydrating before and after a massage will assist your kidneys and other organs to move these impurities out of your body more efficiently. Dehydration can also lead to increases in muscle and fascia tension, so drinking plenty of water on a daily basis helps prevent injury to the muscular and fascial systems.
Stay in motion-- If you have a job where you are seated the majority of the day, make sure to take breaks in order to move and stretch your body. This can help maintain joint mobility and prevent muscle tightening. Developing a regular workout routine that combines strength training, stretching, and cardiovascular exercise can help reduce physical and emotional stress, which can alleviate body tension.
Rest-- You will receive more benefits from your massage if you take it easy the remainder of day after your massage. Gentle movements such as walking are fine, but your body needs rest to integrate the massage work. Your muscles have been worked and manipulated similar to a work-out and they need time to recover. Adequate sleep also goes a long way in supporting your body's regenerative capabilities. During sleep your body releases hormones that are essential for muscle development, tissue growth, and cell repair.
Eat-- Massage speeds up your circulatory system, which can in turn increase your digestive system's functioning. When you stomach begins gurgling during a massage, it is a sign of increased digestive function. A light post-massage snack can help refuel your body and give your muscles and other tissues essential energy for repair. Adequate nutrition between massages will support multiple systems in your body and reduce physical and emotional stress.