During a massage therapy treatment, there a few questions that are asked frequently enough to imagine that many folks may think them but not ask. Here are the questions (and answers!), in no particular order, just in case one of them might have crossed your mind when you were too relaxed to speak…
Question: How frequently should I get a massage?
Answer: The answer is determined by your rationale for using massage therapy as a modality but on average every 4-6 weeks is suitable for most people interested in stress management and optimal health. In the case of prenatal care, you might follow this schedule until your third trimester and then find yourself seeking more frequent treatments for management of musculoskeletal changes. In the case of a health condition, such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes or chronic headaches, an individual treatment plan could be decided upon based on your overall health and input from other healthcare providers.
Question: Can I do my workout after a massage?
Answer: The best bet for workout timing is BEFORE a massage. There isn’t any harm in going straight from your run or weights to a massage appointment, as long as you remember to grab a snack and drink some water before hopping on the table (so that your blood sugar is able to stabilize).
Working out AFTER a massage might be counterproductive, as your body is attempting to recruit muscle fibers that might be in repair mode from the circulatory work of the treatment. If you are using massage therapy as part of your overall training regime, it’s best to schedule it on rest days or during recovery weeks in order to maximize both your training and your treatment. If peak athletic performance is your goal, always allow 48-72 hours between a deeper tissue massage and an event.
Remember that walking and gentle yoga are helpful at any time!
Question: When should I ice and when should I use heat?
Answer: As a general rule, ice is most effective within the first 24-48 hours of an injury or whenever swelling, heat or any kind of inflammation is present (ie tendonitis). 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off with an ice pack or bag of frozen peas is a safe guideline.
Heat is always best for chronic conditions that require warmth to maintain tissue mobility, such as that aching midback after a long day in the garden. Or the seat warmer for your hamstrings!
If you have any questions about how to treat your injury with hydrotherapy, feel free to ask your RMT, chiropractor or naturopath.
Question: Should I get a massage if I am sick? Won’t it make me feel better?
Answer: If you have a fever, or are recovering from the flu or an infection, it’s better to stay at home. Your body can benefit more from rest than massage at that time. (And everyone else stays healthy!)
If you’ve had a cough or cold and the acute part is over, massage therapy can help to free the tightness in muscles that assist with breathing AND loosen any residual phlegm.
Question: How are Epsom Salts helpful?
Answer: Epsom Salts are made of magnesium sulfate and can be used to increase circulation through sweating. This can help with muscle relaxation and detoxification. In order to get the full benefit, the trick is to use enough of them (3-4 cups) dissolved in a full tub of hot water (always test the temperature for comfort). Drink lots of water (it can be dehydrating otherwise) and use a cold compress on the back of your neck to prevent dizziness. A cool rinse after the soak can help to decrease your core temperature. Be prepared for a great night’s sleep!