With the advent of 'Do it yourself' massage therapies, the Internet is loaded with hundreds of videos showing how you can stimulate and manipulate your muscle tissues all by yourself, at the comfort of your home. But, it is seldom as beneficial and pleasurable as compared to a professional body massage. As easy as DIY massages seem to be, the main purpose of a body massage is partially post-stimulation of the right pressure points. While you try all the techniques you know, without an idea of how much pressure to apply and where to apply, the whole point is lost. That is how the massage industry keeps on growing. As days go by, more and more people have started to trust massage therapists with their physical and mental well-being. Today, there are over 200 forms of body massages which differ based on the underlying principles, targeted areas, applied pressure, techniques and the scientific reasoning behind them.
However, as you surf through the internet and come across pictures of models wrapped up in flawless white towels, possibly in luxurious rooms, with honey being poured on their backs from designer pots, you must begin to think- "Oh this must be a simple process"
While a massage session is really simple, there is much more to it than just lying down and relaxing. There are things you should keep in mind before you head to your message centre.
Things to do and not do before a massage:
To begin with, the key to a good massage begins at home, at the comfort of your morning tea. While this seems strange on the face of it, it all begins with research. Before you even start booking your next appointment, you should carefully read about what a specific massage therapy will offer. Needless to say, the massage therapist will be able to suggest what exactly you need, but you should be informed beforehand. Since the massage industry has expanded so much, there are tens of specialized massages that require careful research. Check on the internet about what particular massage therapy offers, and try to match it with your needs. While the classic Swedish Massage is rather simple and gentle, massage therapies like Shiatsu, Reiki or Crystal Massage may not be that simple to understand. Have an idea about the massage Centres around you, read up the reviews, and if needed, ask your questions to them.
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The next logical step is to schedule an appointment. As a rule of thumb, you should double-check on the time that is best suitable for you. While there are hundreds of articles on the Internet as to "when is the perfect time" for a massage, be it during the day or at night, it all boils down to when you are free. Choose a time when there is no rush for you. Always remember, a massage does not end right after the massage therapist is done. You should take time to relax, unwind and let the blissful feel seep in properly.
Another crucial factor is to reschedule your appointment if you face some emergency. Work deadlines, any form of sickness- be it fever, allergies, rashes, you should call your therapist and let them know.
Another thing to keep in mind is loose and comfortable clothing. You do not want to put up layers of clothing, with hundreds of zips and buttons. As a rule of thumb, keep it simple.
Right before your massage begins, head to the toilet. While this sounds absurd, there is a science to it. Since the whole point of a massage is to stimulate the muscles, it would be very uncomfortable if you are having a massage around your abdominals and you have the urge to leak.
As for things you should avoid before a massage, the first thing has got to do with your diet. Avoid having heavy meals to the throat. Just remember that someone will press your back, manipulate your tissues and a loaded meal is going to give you a horrendous experience. Avoid packing on oily foods or junk foods. They take time to digest and will make you feel horrible throughout the massage session.
Avoid being secretive and missing out on communicating about your conditions right before the masseuse starts their massage. Let them know if you have conditions and trust them with tailoring the massage to your needs, keeping in mind your issues.
The last thing you want to do is reach the massage Centre drunk or hungover. Alcohol is probably the enemy of a comforting massage. The massage experience will be haunting you if you reach there out of your senses.
Avoid reaching the massage Centre after a long sunbathing session. Sunburns are very sensitive and the whole process of strokes through your body will hurt you like anything.
Lastly, avoid a hot shower right before you head for the massage. The science behind this is that a hot shower before your massage can increase your circulation and your chances of sweating through the session. It will be very uncomfortable sweating litres of water during a massage.
Things to do and avoid during a massage:
The first thing to do with massage has got to do with privacy and your level of comfort. A lot of massage therapies require the client to undress completely and expose every part of the body. That should never be the case, at the cost of your comfort. Always remember to communicate with your therapist about your level of comfort at the beginning of the massage.
Secondly, your massage experience should never include working through the pain. If you feel uneasy, if it is hurting your body, COMMUNICATE IMMEDIATELY. Ask your masseuse if it is supposed to hurt a bit or if it is unusual. This communication is extremely crucial.
The next part is about music and therapeutic healing. Some ancient forms of massage like the Indian Ayurvedic Massage or the Thai Massage are often done with some sort of spiritual music playing in the background. Even modern forms of body massage are done with some soothing music in the background. However, it should always come at the cost of your comfort. Let them know if the music is not okay with you.
While the therapist is going on with the various techniques, one thing to bear in mind is to breathe. Breathe and let go of your thoughts, daily stress and remember that this is quality time spent with yourself. Immerse yourself in the blissful atmosphere and try to make the most out of it. When you hold your breath while some specific part is worked upon, it tends to be counterproductive and gets harder for the therapist to work with.
Relax your muscles and do not lay there stiff as a rock. Let your therapist work their way through your muscles so that they can be loosened, stretched and the toxins get flushed out properly.
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Things to do and avoid after a massage:
The first thing that should come to mind right after you are done with a body massage session is hydration. A body massage is generally intense and the muscles get worked up. Hydration not only ensures that they get the much-demanded nutrients but also speeds up the detoxification process. Some massage therapies like the deep tissue massage are believed to release toxins accumulated in the bloodstream over time. A healthy amount of water intake is considered to facilitate the pancreas and kidneys in the process of flushing out these toxins. Always remember to hydrate well.
The second point is avoiding gobbling up whatever you get right after you are done. A food coma will kill the process of relaxation and you will end up feeling horrible. Snack on something light if you are extremely hungry and avoid oily foods at all cost.
Avoid consuming caffeine as it is a stimulant and aggravates the risk of triggering anxiety and fastening your pulse. As a rule of thumb, avoid your daily coffee right after a massage session for some hours.
If you are planning to party and get sloshed right after your body massage session, it is a serious NO-NO. Alcohol will turn all the goodness of a massage upside down and you the diuretic effects can be intensified right after a massage. Avoid drinking at all costs if you seek to maximize the benefits of a body massage.
Maintaining the temperature of your shower or bath is crucial after your body massage. The main benefit of body massage is to promote blood circulation and taking a hot bath or shower increases the blood flow further and might make you feel faint or dizzy. In case of the aromatherapy massage or the other forms of body massages that use natural oils, a hot shower will wash off the goodness of those natural oils which have been proven to be beneficial to your skin, the digestive system and your immune system.
Right after you are done with the massage, you should take time to lie down and relax for a while. You should remember that your body has gone through a lot of manipulation in the past hour and needs some time to relax. Do not rush back home or back to your workplace and take time to help your body absorb all the goodness of the natural oils and the strokes. Play some soothing music if needed, and a nap is also beneficial for complete relaxation.
Avoid stressing out about your daily routine right after a body massage. This tends to rile you up and might affect your healing process altogether.
Avoid listening to heavy or loud music to avoid your body getting worked up. Try something soothing to prolong the benefits of a body massage. Research has proven that music can produce psychological responses due to its link to the stress-related cognitive processes. Added to that, it keeps your stress at bay.
Overexertion is one factor that one should always keep in mind after a body massage. While you might be tempted to go for a run or hit the gym right after the massage, as your body feels feather-light, AVOID WORKING OUT. Your muscles are already exhausted with all the stretching and pulling and working out makes matters worse. Avoid any form of strain or else the whole point is reversed. As a rule of thumb, treat your body like you just got done with a vigorous workout session.
At times, many massage therapies are followed by light soreness since they are intense. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but light stretching is always appreciated after a massage.
Last but not the least, find some "me time". Avoid wasting your energy on your daily chores and take this time out for some relaxation and plan your day accordingly. Your meetings, deadlines can be taken care of in some other day and it is crucial that you "heal" after a body massage. The few hours right after your body massage may extend your rejuvenated state of mind and make you extra productive over the next few days. Hence, enjoy time with yourself without any stress and let your body heal.