As more and more people seek out the therapeutic benefits of massage, the CAM modality is moving from a once luxurious indulgence to an essential component of overall health and wellness. But making time for a massage is just the first step. Stretching onto the massage table with the right attitude, expectations and information can dramatically affect how you feel when you stand up again.
Certified massage therapists are trained in anatomy and physiology, but they are not mind readers. Trust me. A therapist may be able to feel the extensive tension in your left hamstring, but she’s not going to know that you didn’t warm up properly before demonstrating hanumanasana (full split) to a yoga-curious friend last week and that, yes, it hurts when touched.
Receiving a massage is one of the few moments in life when you are permitted to be absolutely selfish, so take advantage of it. To get the most out of your massage, the American Massage Therapy Association says:
- Do not eat immediately before a massage session.
- Be on time. If you arrive rushed and frenzied, it will take longer to move into a relaxed state.
- If you do not want to remove all your clothing, wear something that is comfortable and will allow the massage therapist to touch and move the areas of your body you expect will need to be worked on.
- Communicate. Before the session, let your massage therapist know what your needs are. During the massage session, report any discomfort from the massage or any problems or distractions related to the environment (room temperature, music volume, lighting, etc.) and feel free to give feedback to the massage therapist regarding the massage (amount of pressure, speed of movement, etc.).
- Breathing facilitates relaxation. People limit the breath when they feel anxious, or a sensitive area is massaged. Try to breathe through it.
- Contracting or hardening your muscles during the massage is counterproductive. Try to relax your muscles and let your massage therapist know what’s going on.
- If your thoughts are racing during the massage, one way to quiet the mind is to follow the hands of the massage therapist and focus on how the touch feels.
- If possible, allow for some quiet time after your massage. Sometimes one needs a little time to integrate or absorb the results of the bodywork.
- Drink extra water after your massage.
How do you maximize your massage? Do you have any tips for remaining relaxed once the session is over?
Maximize Your Massage was written by Marisa Bleger for blog.gaiam.com.