Massage Therapy, Blacksburg, VA
When and How Often to Get a Massage
By Nancy Mignone, CMT, Blacksburg, VA
When you have emotional stress or pain from a sudden injury or repeated motion that does not go away after a few days, it’s a good time to get a massage. Assuming the pain is in your muscles or connective tissue (not deep pain from your organs), massage therapy can alleviate pain and speed up the healing process.
Both sudden injury and chronic overuse (repetitive motion injury) cause muscles to contract, hold contractions, and not be able to relax completely. Several massage techniques, such as trigger point, deep tissue, myofascial release and just plain old kneading, rubbing, friction, and tapotement (Swedish massage) can reduce pain by mechanically releasing muscle tension and holding.
In addition, massage improves circulation to the injured or strained tissue, which speeds the healing process. Massage also helps rid the affected areas of trapped metabolic waste products, bringing in a fresh blood supply with oxygen, and nutrients. Manual lymph massage also stimulates the flow in the immune system to speed repair to strained or damaged tissues.
When you are under emotional stress is another good time to see a massage therapist. It doesn’t matter whether the stress is short term or ongoing. Studies published by Touch Research Institute of Miami (see Stress under Abstracts at http://www6.miami.edu/touch-research/Abstracts.html), indicate that slow massage to the back and hands causes physical and emotional relaxation and reduces stress levels. For more answers to frequently asked questions about massage, see http://www.nancymignone.massagetherapy.com/frequently-asked-questions.
How often should I get a massage?
For sudden strains or problems with repetitive motion, twice a week for a few weeks is ideal. If you can’t afford the time and money, then at least once a week for a few weeks. You can then see how you do with getting a massage every other week for a month or two. In the case of chronic issues, after the initial treatment period you may benefit from a massage every 3 or 4 weeks for maintenance, unless adjustments are made in your workplace that correct the problem.
In cases of emotional stress, in depends on whether or not the stress is ongoing and how severe it is. Massage is helpful at least every other week for those experiencing strong levels of ongoing stress, and once a month for those with less.
Will I be sore after my massage?
Not usually. It is possible that you will feel sore for a day or two, particularly if you received deep work either for the first time or for the first time in a long while. Your therapist should check in with you verbally during the massage to ensure that the depth of pressure is comfortable for you. You should also not hesitate to tell the massage therapist if anything he or she does is painful or uncomfortable.
There are cases in which it is hard for the client to know whether the pressure is too deep. That is, sometimes really deep work can feel good, but leave you sore for days. If you are uncomfortably sore or tired for more than 2 days, you probably received work that was too deep, even though it may have felt good at the time. This is most often the case with clients who have fibromyalgia. If you are healthy and active, you should have fewer problems receiving deep work.
See Ray's article below for ways to minimize soreness after your massage. Drink lots of water! Take it easy!
Nancy Mignone, CMT has been practicing massage therapy in Blacksburg, VA for 14 years. She is a graduate of the Blue Ridge School of Massage and Yoga, www.blueridgemassage.org. She also holds 200 hour certificates in cranial sacral therapy and yoga. For more information about her practice, see www.nancymignone.massagetherapy.com
How long Should I Wait to Exercise After a Massage or Bodywork Session?
Ask a Therapist
By Ray Bishop
Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Spring/Summer 2007. Copyright 2007. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
Q"How long should I wait to exercise after a massage or bodywork session?"
A. Advanced Rolfer Ray Bishop, of Atlanta, Georgia, recommends clients avoid strenuous exercise for at least twenty -four hours after a bodywork session. "Exercising after a session can both increase muscle soreness and compromise the value of the soft-tissue work you've just received," he says. "By strenuous exercise, I mean activities such as running, weight lifting, high intensity aerobics, or power yoga classes.
"Light exercise such as moderate walking, gentle stretching, or swimming laps at an easy pace is okay for healthy individuals. One widely accepted view in favor of this twenty-four-hour recovery period is that sustained pressure on connective tissue makes it more gel-like. The technical term for this change is thixotropic effect. This state of increased softness lasts about twenty-four hours, so high-intensity exercise may pull or move the tissue back to old patterns or even induce new strain patterns.
"I usually suggest you take it easy that evening and the following day. To further reduce any bodywork-related soreness, drink at least two liters of water in the next twenty-four hours to hydrate and flush your system. Take a hot Epsom salt bath and drink gently calming teas such as chamomile or passionflower to facilitate sleep and reduce stress that is so commonly seen as a contributing factor in chronic muscle tension and soreness. If you're dealing with an injury, these guidelines would have to be adjusted, but these basic suggestions seem to work well for most of my clients.
"I do find that healthy people who exercise vigorously five to six days a week sometimes find even these modest recommendations quite challenging. If you're one of these people, I recommend you work out before your session and then take it easy afterward."