Many of my clients tell me they wish they could have a massage every day of the week. Wouldn’t that be AMAZING? Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the time or the money to indulge in quite such a regular massage routine, but we can make the most of massage treatments by practicing self-care in between massages.
First rule – drink the water!
There’s a reason why I give my clients a refreshing glass of cool water after a treatment; it’s to help hydrate their body and keep their muscles relaxed. Water is great for your skin and your muscles, plus staying hydrated can even help to prevent headaches.
Keep up the stretching
It’s a very common problem, but there’s a very simple solution…if you are one of the many people who feel achy and tight after a day at work, stretch! If you make a habit of including stretching in your daily routine, it will really help you with any muscle aches and soreness, and will make the effects of your massage last longer.
In between sessions, having a good stretch helps support the work that’s been done to relax your muscles on the treatment table. It doesn’t matter when you fit your stretches in, as long as you make a habit of it.
Keep in mind: Stretches shouldn’t ever hurt, so don’t overdo it. Easing into stretches gently, and holding them for at least a minute will give you better results than shorter, deeper stretches.
Epsom salt baths are great for keeping any muscle aches and stiff joints at bay – they contain magnesium which is also good for relieving stress. To prevent soreness after a massage, add Epsom salts to your bath as directed and relax.
Feeling hot and cold
In between massages you might start feeling that tell-tale build-up of tension – nip it in the bud with heat therapy. Applying heat can help to sooth aching muscles and relieve any tightness and tension. Heat can also improve and stimulate blood flow to the area. Try a heat pad, or heat up a damp towel in the microwave using 30 second intervals to check the temperature.
If you injure yourself in between massage sessions, try using cold therapy to numb the pain. Cold therapy is good for strains, sprains and other minor injuries (if you’re unsure, or are in serious pain, see your healthcare provider).
For severe pain and/or swelling, take a cold pack (or you can use a frozen bottle of water, or even frozen vegetables in a bag) and wrap it in a towel to avoid cold burns. If you’re using a frozen bottle as a cold pack, a thick sock works well as a barrier, if you’ve been overdoing it and you have sore feet, try rolling the frozen bottle under your foot. You can alternate between hot and cold therapy but always leave a period in between for your body to adjust.
Break out the Massage Tools
Using massage tools (aka foam rolling) to perform self-care is an effective way to increase flexibility, minimize muscle pain and improve performance. While it doesn’t replace the hands of a skilled therapist, foam rolling daily is the perfect complement to massage therapy.
My favorite type of massage tools are therapy balls as they easily allow for specific trigger point work, are convenient to carry with you, and are affordable. Recently, I had the opportunity to check out Deep Recovery, the industry leader in massage therapy balls. Here are my findings:
- Offers Variety of Densities – As a licensed massage therapist and foam rolling expert, I work with a diverse group of clients: athletes, injured, elderly and weekend warriors. Depending on the client and the sensitivity of the muscle that I’m targeting, Deep Recovery provides me with the option to choose from a soft, firm or very firm density therapy ball. For self-care, choose the right therapy ball for you and combine it with Deep Recovery’s Body Track for the ultimate in self-care shoulder and neck pain relief. When choosing your ball density aim for an intensity between 5 to 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.
- Comes in Different Sizes – Muscles come in a variety of sizes. Lucky for us, so does Deep Recovery Massage Therapy Balls. The 4.0 balls are perfect for your bigger muscle groups such as glutes, pecs and hamstrings. While the 2.5 balls can work wonders for your shoulders and neck. Check out this shoulder pain treatment for a specific self-care routine.
- Bundled 2 in a Mesh Bag – Two Deep Recovery Massage Therapy Balls come bundled in a mesh bag making them easy to carry but most importantly giving you additional self-care options. You can remove one ball from the bag and use it for specific trigger point therapy or you can keep both balls in the mesh bag and use it more like a peanut for cervical and spinal work.
- High Quality with lifetime warranty – Deep Recovery tools are made from a special polyurethane foam, not rubber, so they will not break down due to use and exposure to heat. Its high quality design, lifetime warranty and affordability makes it an obvious must have self-care item in the Body R&R tool box. I was particularly impressed by firm and very firm massage balls and have decided to integrate them in all of my future rollassage classes. I guess it’s safe to safe I fell deep in love with Deep Recovery.
One last and very important tip; make massage sessions part of your regular self-care routine. If you’re unsure about how often you need a massage, the best person to ask is your therapist. He/She will know if you need extra sessions or just maintenance care, and will make sure your massage is tailored to your needs.