You just got a massage and you feel incredible. You want to make the feeling last and you want to know what you can expect in the next few days.
What You May Experience
- Relaxation: physical and mental. When we deal with our physical aches and pains, our "mental knots" often work themselves out as well.
- HUNGER! If you really relaxed during your massage, you'll probably be ravenous when you get off the table. Your parasympathetic system (rest and digest mode) engages during deep relaxation and it will let you know!
- Deep Sleep. This might be my favorite thing about getting massages.
The next couple of days...
- Soreness. Depending on how light or deep the work was, the intensity of this will vary. If the work was deep, that soreness can be nerve-wracking. What you may feel is something like you feel after an intense workout, because that's exactly what your muscles just got! If it's more like the sore you feel after you tripped and fell on your face in public (we've all been there), that means you were over-worked. Tell your massage therapist! Communication will improve your results tremendously.
- Slight bruising. I'm not talking about those black and blue, I-rammed-my-leg-into-the-table-at-full-speed, kind of bruises. I mean there may be bruises that show up that look like they're already half healed. These aren't a cause for concern in most cases but if you're worried about anything, reach out to your massage therapist or a medical professional.
- Increased Body Awareness. This is the really lasting power of massage right here! You can do amazing things with this awareness that I'll detail below.
- Heightened Emotional State. People often experience emotional release during/after massage. Pain is pain to your brain. It doesn't differentiate between the physical and the mental/emotional so it stands to reason that our emotional pain can get trapped in our body. When the muscles release, sometimes emotions get released too. If you find you're really struggling please seek help from a mental health professional.
How to Make the Glow Last
- Hydrate!!! Water or non-caffeinated tea are best. Avoid alcohol or caffeine as these dehydrate you and will make for slower recovery from any muscle soreness post-massage.
- Plan for some me-time after the massage. Maybe it's as simple as keeping your phone off for another hour after the massage to settle into the lovely feel of your relaxed body.
- Listen to your body. This increased awareness is the most powerful thing about massage! If you came in with a chronic issue, feel how much better it's doing now and make note. If you're working to reverse this long term, schedule your next massage *before* it's starting to really bother you again. It's all about breaking those bad habits our bodies have and replacing them with feelings of ease.
- Eat. Go for what your quieted body requests. You'll find that you won't reach for the junk food after a massage because you're able to listen to your body more easily.
- Adjust your exercise appropriately. No matter what kind of massage you got, keep moving! Gentle stretching and exercising is generally appropriate. If you got some really deep work done, remember that your muscles just got an intense workout and go easy in your next workout.
- Take an epsom salt bath. If you're really feeling sore, this is exactly what you need. Use 1-5 pounds in a warm bath. Yes, THAT much; it's where the therapeutic value kicks in. It's hard to overstate how helpful I've found this personally when recovering from deep massage work.
- Do your homework! Your massage therapist probably sent you out the door with some recommendations. Follow them! It's about creating new habits that will improve your life long term. If you found it easier to sit up straight after your massage, do the stretches/exercises (doorway pec stretches are great) your massage therapist gave you. Create a new habit. Your body will thank you for years to come.
- Roll with your emotions. You might experience an emotional release after your massage. My clients have found over the years that the best way to deal with this is to just feel the emotions and let them pass. Staying committed to not telling themselves a story about why they're feeling what they're feeling and riding the wave leaves them feeling 10x lighter. It's been my own experience that if I can get some time to myself (so I don't take those emotions out on my partner/loved ones/strangers), I can experience healing on an even deeper level. As always, seek a mental health professional if you need to. It's very normal to have emotional experiences around body work and you needn't feel shame about this.
- Schedule your next massage. I know, eye-roll, of course a massage therapist would include this. Hear me out though. When you were a kid all you wanted when things were hard or you didn't feel good was a hug and a back scratch. Our immune systems LOVE touch. Massage is not merely a luxury for the rich, but a powerful way to keep yourself healthy and ease the aches of your life.
If you have specific questions about your post-massage experience, reach out to me or your respective massage therapist. We love hearing from our clients!