Top 10 Self-Care Tips: Post Massage
Self-care is an important aspect of maintaining the benefits of massage therapy, both at home and in between massage sessions. By taking the time to take care of yourself in between sessions, you can extend the benefits from your massage. Here are some tips on how to take care of yourself to maximize the benefits of massage therapy:
1. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help to flush toxins from your body and improve circulation, which can help to enhance the effects of massage therapy. If you feel like you have a hangover after getting a massage, it means that you are probably dehydrated. In this case make sure to push more water after your session and if you still feel off, drink some electrolytes or coconut water. Don't have electrolyte mix? Try adding a pinch of Himalayan salt to your water. The average adult should drink about 80oz of water a day. To calculate the exact amount of water for you, take your body weight and divide it by 2. That is how many ounces you should be drinking a day for adequate hydration. (i.e. 200lbs divided by 2=100oz of water)
2. Stretch and exercise: Regular stretching and exercise can help to improve flexibility, reduce muscle tension, and promote overall well-being. If you are a gym rat then great! You've got this one covered. However, you don't have to have a gym membership to get your exercise in. Turn on some tunes and dance while you clean the house. Go for a walk or hike. Pull up a 20min video on YouTube. Yoga with Adrienne is great! Finding a purposeful movement or exercise that you enjoy and that works for you is what matters. We can't all be CrossFit starts and we don't need to be.
3. Practice deep breathing: Deep breathing can help to relax the body and mind, reduce stress, and improve circulation. Many of us have a shallow breathing pattern. When we take short quick breaths our bodies think we need to run away from a tiger and it triggers our fight or flight response. This activates our sympathetic nervous system and our body releases a cocktail of hormones and endorphins to try and keep us safe. We are not meant to exist in this state for extended periods of time therefore it will begin to tax our adrenals and can trigger anxiety, insomnia and the release of excess cortisol. Deep slow breathing from the diaphragm not only helps to oxygenate our whole system but has a calming effect. It lowers cortisol and helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which is our body's natural healing system. Not sure where to start with deep breathing? Again, there are so many wonderful resources on YouTube. Many videos that walk you through these techniques can be done in 5 to 10min. Try adding in a breathwork break during your day and see how it improves your focus and overall sense of well being.
4. Get enough sleep: Now for some of us, this is easier said than done. So let's talk strategy. We all know that getting a good night's sleep can help to promote overall well-being, reduce stress, and improve circulation. So, how do we do it? Here are some tips.
Stop eating 2hrs before bedtime: Late night eating can prevent restful sleep. Therefore, if you have issues sleeping, try having your last meal or snack 2hrs before you would like to be asleep.
Set a bedtime alarm: This should be set for at least 1hr prior to the time you would like to go to sleep.
Turn down lights and turn off electronics: Once your alarm goes off, turn down lights and turn off electronics. Yes, I know, this is a hard one but we know that our ancient ancestors went to sleep by the sunset and sunrise. To simulate this we need to create an environment that tells the body that it's time to wind down. This means turning off or putting down our computers, phones, tablets, TVs etc. Turn off some lights so that you have a low ambient lighting in the house.
Square breathing technique: Often times our minds race if we have a lot going on when we're trying to go to sleep. This can cause insomnia and difficulty falling asleep. One technique that my husband and I use is called square breathing. To keep it simple, I recommend Inhaling for inhaling for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds and then exhale for 5 seconds and repeat. This is much more effective than counting sheep.
Sleeping aids: Still can't sleep? There are so many wonderful sleep aids on the market. I had a bout with insomnia a few years ago and found that taking a magnesium complex 30min before bed was the trick. But everyone is different so experiment to see what works for you. Other natural options include, CBD, melatonin, valerian root, passion flower tea, chamomile tea etc. Make sure to check for drug interactions before beginning any supplement and talk to your doctor before changing your routine or if you have questions or concerns.
5. Use heat or cold therapy: If you have muscle soreness in-between your massage appointments it can be effective to use heat or cold therapy. Applying heat or cold to sore or tight muscles can help to reduce pain and inflammation, and improve circulation. I recommend using cold therapy only in cases of acute injuries where the area is swollen, red and inflamed. Cold therapy should be used sparingly as it can slow down healing. Heat on the other hand can be very effective to use on tight, sore muscles. Using a heating pad on the painful area in 20min increments can be a real God send.
6. Use essential oils: Essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus can help to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and improve circulation. This can also be part of your bedtime routine. Get a small essential oil diffuser and diffuse a fragrance that is relaxing to you. There are also a lot of bedtime oil blends that are already formulated for relaxation. You can also add a drop of peppermint, clove and/or eucalyptus to your body lotion or oil and rub it on sore muscles. It's amazing how much it can help with pain.
7. Take a warm bath: Taking a warm bath can help to relax the body, reduce stress, and improve circulation. To boost the effects of the bath, add in Epsom salts or dead sea salts. These both have high amounts of magnesium which help to relax muscles, reducing pain and tension in the body. The magnesium can also help with sleep, so take your bath 30min to an hour before bedtime to enhance your sleep.
8. Meditate or practice mindfulness: Meditation or mindfulness can help to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and improve overall well-being. Try adding a 5 to 10min mindfulness or meditation time to your busy routine. At work? Duck into a small office or huddle room on your break and set a timer for 5 or 10min. Need help with meditation? Try playing a guided meditation. There are a plethora of options out there these days. Meditation apps and YouTube are among the most popular.
9. Seek professional massage therapy on a regular basis: Regular massage therapy can help to improve circulation, reduce stress, and promote overall well-being. Make sure to talk to your massage therapist to get recommendations on how often they recommend sessions for you. Every Body is different. Some of your just need a once a month massage routine but others who have chronic pain or are recovering from injuries may need sessions closer together.
10. Listen to your body: Pay attention to how your body feels and respond to any areas of discomfort or tension with the above self-care tips. Make adjustments to your routine based on what feels right to you. Have you had reoccurring thoughts of certain dietary changes or types of exercise? It could be your body encouraging you to incorporate these new habits into your routine. Often times we know what our body needs to heal. It's simply listening to our own inner guidance and then following through. The more we follow our intuition, the more it becomes available to us.
By following these tips, you can help to extend the benefits of massage therapy and promote overall well-being. Remember to listen to your body and make self-care a regular part of your routine.
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