Last week I promised a list of simple things you could do to take an active role in your wellness. But there’s a bonus to this list that I didn’t tell you about… these things will also prolong the results of each massage. Groovy, eh? So, let’s get started:
Drink enough water to be properly hydrated – not because you want to flush toxins (research shows that to be a myth) but because properly hydrated muscles hurt less and function better.
Don’t sit still for too long – Your body is made to move, not to sit still. If you have a sedentary job or hobby (or you just enjoy spending all evening on the couch watching TV) you need to find a way to incorporate some movement. As often as you can (or as often as you remember) take your neck, arms, and legs through their range of motion. Neck: look up, down, right, and left, slowly roll your head in circles. Shoulders: roll them forward & backward, open your arms wide enough to reach behind you (theoretically anyway), and move your arms in full circles. Hips: Stand and move your hips in circles, making sure to make both clockwise and counterclockwise circles (if you’re at work, you may want to wait until you go to the restroom for this one), support your low back with your hands and lean back and to each side. Legs: While sitting, stretch your leg out as far as you can in from of you, point your toes, bring your toes toward you, make circles in each direction with your ankles.
If it hurts… don’t do it – Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something’s wrong. Look for alternative ways to do the things that must be done (like soothing, feeding, and changing baby), or get someone else to do them for you. You may have to narrow your definition of what is truly necessary while you’re in pain. Pushing through the pain is a good way to continually re-injure yourself. Give the body time to heal. Chronic pain conditions are different, but you still have to respect your body’s boundaries.
Warm up and gently stretch before exercise – This preps the body and helps prevent injury.
Stretch and cool down after exercise – This helps keep the body from getting stiff after a good workout which could lead to injury from a mundane task later.
Do your stretching homework – Massage therapists and other health professionals don’t give you home care to be sadistic, we do it because it will help you feel better faster. It will also keep you feeling better, longer.
Use ice or heat as recommended – Ice helps to calm painful inflammation. Heat helps to relax tight and spasming muscles. Each allows the painful area, and the restrictions within the area, to be worked more comfortably.
There are tons more things you can do, but these are the most basic… anything beyond these gets you bonus points.
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