Post Massage Self Care: How to Take the Benefits of Medical Massage Home with You
David Weintraub, LMT and owner of Bodyworks DW, writes about post massage self care and how you can take the benefits of your medical massage home with you. Stay ahead of your pain!
Medical massage in New York with a NYC licensed massage therapist should be a regular and valuable part of your self care routine. Let’s face it...New Yorkers are not known for doing things gently. We work long hours, slam weights at the gym, and then maybe hit back to back yoga classes. And while this additive approach to health does have it’s benefits, it’s not restorative. Our bodies need time to heal. To help with that, here are some of our best post massage self care practices to take the benefits your medical massage home with you!
A great medical massage helps to relax both your muscles and your nervous system. It gives your brain time to switch out of your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight!). And engages your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) in a way that has benefits for long after the massage.
In a perfect world we would all get massages every other day and feel fantastic 🙂 Given the reality of time and money this is simply not going to happen. However, there are plenty of practices you can take on to extend the great results of your massage between sessions. These will assist you in feeling great, allow you to go longer between massages, and help keep you from getting injured.
Post Massage Self Care: Practices to take the benefits of medical massage home with you
Lying Down with Your Feet up on a Chair
This is the number 1 homework assignment we give to all of our stressed out massage clients! It’s super easy, and it’s a great excuse to chill out a bit every day. We spend so much time sitting that our muscles get locked up tight in a sitting position. Which helps us to sit, but is terrible for just about everything else we try to do.
Lying down with you lower legs on a chair puts us in the same position as sitting but without needing to hold ourselves up in gravity. It passively shortens our psoas muscle (main hip flexor), quads, hamstrings, and calves. When you shorten a muscle but don’t make it do any work it gets to completely relax. It usually takes 4-5 minutes for your nervous system to chill enough to truly let go of your muscles. We recommend doing this for 5-8 minutes every night before bed to help you get a really good night's sleep.
All of our clients who have taken this practice on notice huge results in about 2-3 weeks. Decreased low back pain or tension, better sleep, easier mood. Check out this video to see what it looks like and give it a try!
Contrast hydrotherapy is a great way to take the benefits of medical massage home with you. It involves alternating applications of heat and cold to an area (or your whole body). The heat opens up blood vessels in tissues and relaxes the nervous system. The cold constricts the blood vessels in tissues and excites the nervous system. Alternating back and forth between them creates a pumping effect for the area. This more quickly draws out damages such as bruising and brings in new blood with nutrients. The contrast creates a greater therapeutic result than either heat or cold alone.
Local contrast hydrotherapy for acute conditions anywhere on the body
- Apply a heat pack to the area for 5 minutes
- Apply an ice pack or rub an ice cube into the area for 1 minute
- Repeat this 3 times, ending on ice
Local contrast hydrotherapy for carpal tunnel syndrome or ankle sprains
- Get two washbasins large enough to be able to place your whole forearm or feet into
- Fill one with hot water (as hot as you can stand)
- Fill the other with cold water (as cold as you can stand)
- Dunk you whole forearms into the hot basin so that the water is above the elbow (or your whole foot so that the water is above the ankle)
- Hold for 5 minutes
- Dunk area into the cold basin for 1 minute
- Repeat 3 times, ending on cold
Whole body contrast hydrotherapy for general health
- At the end of a shower, turn down the hot water and make it as cold as you can stand it
- Hold under the cold water for 30-60 seconds
- Turn the hot back on and hold under the hot water for 2-3 minutes
- Repeat 3 times, ending on cold (unless you shower before bed in which case end on hot to help you sleep)
Incorporate a basic stretching routine when you first wake up into your daily practice. And also a post workout cool down stretching routine. Guess what? The old school stretch as much as possible and suffer the pain as long as you can method? Doesn’t help much. Newer methods such as activated-isolated stretching and PNF stretching are much more effective.
We recommend you change your mindset about stretching. Most of us think of stretching as being about how flexible you are. Instead, think of it as a surefire way to get blood moving through your body. And to areas that might be restricted. Blood carries with it all the things your body uses to heal itself.
You can learn owner David Weintraub’s daily morning stretch routine, as well as a bunch of other stretches and self care tips with our Bodyworks DW TV Self Care Video Library! We've got some free videos from the library on our YouTube Channel to check out, but we totally recommend just going with a subscription. You get 14 days free trial and can cancel at any time 🙂
Working on Form and Posture
Getting a great medical massage in Midtown or our Financial District studios involves a bit more that just what happens on the table. Our therapists are trained to look at your posture and movements for imbalances. We craft a table session to help balance these out, but we also always give easy homework practices to work on in between massages.
The more aware you are of how your body can improve the easier moving will become. Practicing simple form corrections while you are walking, sitting, standing, or exercising will make a big impact on how you feel. Since each of our bodies are unique, these corrections need to be given with thought and care by someone who has experience. Listening to the wrong directions in a group class can lead to injury for someone who doesn’t need that particular correction. For instance, some people in a yoga class could benefit from the direction to tuck your tailbone. However, if you are one of the 3 in 10 people who are already tucked, listening to this may lead to lower back pain.
Due to this, we aren’t going to give any specifics here as they will just be wrong for some of you. If you are working with an experienced massage therapist, pilates instructor, or Alexander Technique practitioner on a one-to-one basis make sure they give you 1-3 simple corrections to work on until you next session. Then give yourself a reminder in your phone to check in with these daily.
At Bodyworks DW we always give post massage self care practices to extend the benefits of your medical massage
When you work with one of our trained massage therapists, we aren’t going to just stick you on the table and give you a routine massage. We analyze your posture, and listen to your history and symptoms during a thorough intake. Then we craft a customized medical massage specifically for you. In addition, we create an overall plan including a series of massage sessions with specific post massage self care practices to help you in between. Our goal is to help you to not need us anymore 🙂
Of course once you are out of constant pain you can come in for maintenance massage therapy to keep you pain and injury free.
We offer medical massage therapy in Midtown and the Financial District in New York City. Would you like to schedule a professional medical massage with one of our highly trained massage therapists? Contact Bodyworks DW today or click on the button to book online at our medical massage Midtown or medical massage Fidi studios!
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