The period of time after massage is very important for ensuring maximum therapeutic benefits for the body and mind.
Massage not only relaxes and unwinds tension, it also acts as a detoxifier, soothes away problems in the body’s soft tissues and boosts circulation and lymphatic drainage. But the benefits do not have to stop when the massage is over. Making a few small changes could have far-reaching benefits for your whole health.
Making the most of massage
Massage can sometimes elicit an emotional response. When toxins and tension trapped in the body are released, fears, anxiety and sadness may come to the surface. Some people feel sleepy, faint or light-headed immediately afterwards and may need a little time to readjust to the pace of normal life. Take care if you’re driving right after a massage, as deep relaxation may cause reaction time to slow down. Never drive if you feel light-headed or sleepy; sit quietly or have a snooze and wait until you feel ready to drive.
On rare occasions there may be a physical response like headache, feeling hot, mild nausea or perspiration. However, these symptoms are usually only experienced during the first few massages or in people who haven’t had a massage for a long time. They should disappear quickly with rest.
Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine or smoking for at least 12 hours after to help your body continue the detoxification process. Adding toxins like alcohol or nicotine could adversely affect the process. Regular massage will help your body cope with everyday toxins, and keeping it as free of toxins as possible before and after a massage will help you stay healthy long-term.
Sleep like a baby
One of the major side-effects of massage is a feeling of tiredness – as toxins are released the body can become profoundly heavy. If your body feels fatigued during or after massage, don’t fight it. Giving in to tiredness is a luxury we do not often allow ourselves. If you feel sleepy afterwards, it is because your body is telling you it needs to slow down.
While the massage is in progress, close your eyes and think of a place that makes you feel comforted, relaxed and calm – it could be a perfect landscape, a gentle lake at sunset or a favourite view – then mentally transport yourself there with all your senses. Think about how the place smells, feels and sounds as well as what you see. While you visualize this special, timeless place, allow your breathing to become deeper and rhythmic and let worries and tension flood away. Take time to bring yourself slowly back to the present, concentrating on what is going on around you, before you open your eyes.
Keep it light
Avoid eating or drinking heavily straight after a massage, or engaging in physical activity. This could divert energy away from vital healing processes toward digestion – steer clear of stimulants like caffeine and stick to water or herbal tea, light snacks and fresh fruit. Make sure you drink enough water to avoid the dehydration that can follow massage. Water keeps the body working efficiently, gives the lymph and circulation systems a helping hand and plumps up skin, making it look and feel fresh and young.
Slow circulation can affect your body’s system and make the skin dull, dry and flaky. Massage helps circulation but there is also a lot that you can do for yourself in between massages. Use a body buffer or loofah the shower to rub dry skin off your legs and arms, remembering to work from the extremities towards the heart. Slight redness of the skin is a sign that the blood is flowing strongly to the surface.
A post-exercise warming down will help prevent cramp, injury and muscle soreness, as it helps your muscles rid themselves of toxin. Aim for at least five to ten minutes of gentle exercise to end your workout.
Good posture can help you get through life without pain and injury. Try to think about how you sit or stand. If you are still for long periods of time – sitting at a desk, cooking or watching television – aim to keep your spine in the neutral position, which will help to reduce stress on the back.
Take a break
Giving a massage can be very draining on your energy levels so, after you have given someone a massage, make sure you take some time to recharge your own batteries. Make sure you drink plenty of water and avoid rushing on to the next thing. Allow your body ten minutes of relaxation and renewal, sitting or lying somewhere quiet and calm.
You should aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day to boost your intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Vitamins A, B and C, found in abundance in tomatoes, fruit, leafy green vegetables and watercress, are particularly important for a healthy diet.
Fatty acids and elements like zinc and calcium are essential for strong skin, bones, hair and nails. Seafood, leafy green vegetables and nuts all contain these nutritious elements and will help to keep your skin in top condition. Consuming oily fish like mackerel and salmon ensures you have the right building blocks for all-round health.
Pollution, toxins, alcohol, smoking and stress can lead to a build-up of free radicals in the body, which, if left unchecked, can cause long-term damage. To combat this, make sure you include free-radical busting antioxidants in your diet; these are found in fresh fruit and vegetables, garlic, onions and nuts and seeds.