Anyone cashing in a massage gift certificate from the holidays or Valentine’s Day? This ancient practice is relaxing, plus studies have shown that it helps improve sleep, reduce pain, boost circulation, decrease anxiety, and aid in muscle recovery. “Once you start doing it, you realize what you’ve been missing and how much it really does add to the quality of your life,” says Deborah C. Leible, a licensed massage therapist and manager of the spa at Shangri-La Springs in Bonita Springs. While you can do your own massage at home by yourself or with a partner, she recommends a professional massage to avoid injury and achieve the best results. Looking to get the most benefits for your mind and body? Below, Leible shares several recommendations for before, during, and after your massage:
• Make sure you hydrate. “Massage flushes toxins out of the muscle, such as lactic acid,” explains Leible. This widely held reasoning needs more scientific research to back it up, but regardless, it’s always good to drink more water.
• Quiet your mind. “It’s hard to transition rapidly from a very active lifestyle into that hour or hour and a half when you’re trying to convince yourself to relax,” says Leible. Arrive a few minutes early to fill out any necessary paperwork, visit the restroom prior to your treatment, and start your session with a few deep breaths.
• Let your therapist know about any medical issues or painful areas so they can adapt the pressure of the massage to your needs. Communicate if it’s too heavy or light, or if your masseuse is being too chatty and you want some quiet time.
• Hydrate some more. This can help prevent you from feeling sore the next day. Water is best, Leible notes, but tea without caffeine also works well.