1. Stay Hydrated Drink some extra fluids, preferably water, immediately following your massage and throughout the day. There are two primary reasons for this. First, massage itself is dehydrating. The massage process pumps fluids out of soft tissue and into the circulatory system, where it heads to the kidneys, causing an increase in urination. Drinking extra fluids allows your body to replenish the water lost during massage. And secondly, metabolic waste is stored in muscle tissue. Tight muscles can lead to a compromise in circulation, which can inhibit the body’s ability to flush out waste. Getting those tight muscles loosened often releases metabolic wastes into the circulatory pathways, where they are carried out of the body through urination. Drink plenty of water to help facilitate this process!
2. Rest some after massage, but don’t be too sedentary. It is best to relax but don’t just sit around following your massage. Those worked muscles want to move some. Take an easy walk, do some light activity or easy gardening, and especially keep those areas where more intense work was done moving. Range of motion activities for the neck, shoulder, and other areas can be very helpful to stay loose.
3. If you choose to exercise following massage, follow these guidelines: Allow some time for your body to settle into the effects of your massage. It’s best not to do an intense workout the same day as a massage, even if you are in excellent physical condition. Wait a day, or do your workout before your massage. Don’t forget to stretch before and after exercise, as this will greatly enhance the effects of your massage. Remember that your muscles both want to stay loose and have a tendency to go right back to where and how they were. Encourage them into different patterns of behavior more in line with what allows you to stay loose.
4. Use ice and/or heat as needed if you are sore after your massage. Sometimes deep work can leave you feeling a bit achy and sore for a day or two after your massage. If this occurs, ice on the area can be very helpful. Alternating heat and ice can be very effective as well. I always tell clients to use whichever modality they can tolerate and that feels good. If just sitting with ice makes you cringe, don’t use it, or use it in conjunction with a soothing distraction like music or incense or reading something you enjoy. If soreness in an area persists beyond a couple of days, make sure to let your massage therapist know that at your next visit.
5. Let the fact that you did something kind for yourself filter down to other areas of your life. Give yourself a pat on the back for taking time out of your day to get a massage. Look for ways you can enhance the experience by being kind to yourself in other ways throughout the day. Let the feel good sensation expand to those with whom you interact on a regular basis. Remember that massage is a gift you give yourself, and one of the best ways to make it last is to
resume your life with a little more patience, calm, and that restored sense of well-being that comes on after massage. Let that feeling linger and spread to those around you.