Whether you’re a high-level endurance athlete, medical professional, personal trainer or athletic assistant, you’re probably already aware of many of the benefits that massage can pose when it comes to restorative and preventative medicine. In addition to minimizing risk for injury, regularly engaging in personal or guided massage can help speed recovery, loosen tight muscle groups, reduce camping and even build strength and flexibility. Still, deviating from your normal routine of personal massage can help you discover benefits and treatments that you weren’t even aware of before. Whether you’re looking for ways to improve and spice up your normal routine or have a specific injury or condition that you’re hoping to accelerate care for, take a look at these components that you can add to massage.
Adding temperature into massage
One of the most commonly added components of massage, using temperature therapy can open new doors for your treatment of muscle soreness, stiffness or injury. Whether you’re already doing this or are looking to begin this process, though, it’s important to gain a firm understanding of the different uses and purposes of temperature therapy. Predominantly, temperature therapy as it pertains to massage can be broken down into two major categories: heat therapy and cold therapy. According to Crane Massage Therapy, using ice, or cryotherapy, is most routinely combined with massage in instances where the end goal is to decrease existing inflammation or prevent inflammation from occurring in the first place. Heat therapy, as an alternative, is used to stimulate blood flow and increase circulation to a given area. These two components can be added in using hot or cold compresses, but one needs be mindful of one’s situation. If you’re using heat therapy paired with massage, that practice should take place before an athletic or strenuous event, whereas cold massage should occur after, in the restorative phase.
Adding stretching into massage
Though stretching may be perhaps the most natural complement to massage, it isn’t added into the practice nearly as frequently as it should be. The fact of the matter is that stretching can be incorporated into massage in a whole range of ways that are beneficial to your body. For example, if you’re looking to activate a muscle group or increase blood flow to it prior to engaging in massage, you may want to engage in dynamic stretching. The American Massage Therapy Association defines dynamic stretching as a stretch in which the muscle is held active for only a few seconds at a time in a long series of continuous repetitions. Inversely, you may want to try static stretching after a massage to loosen a muscle even more considerably before a period of rest. The same source defines static stretching as the practice in which a muscle is engaged for longer periods of time over only one or two repetitions.
Massage and meditation
While the physical benefits of adding meditation into massage are less well documented than some other components, it still presents the potential for a host of benefits. Guided imagery or meditation is simple to practice and requires very little beyond a clear mind and a reasonable space in which to engage in it. Consider pairing your massage with the use of a guided imagery podcast or meditative breathing. Whether you’re practicing personal massage or using the services of a professional, you may find that this helps you leave the process feeling more cleansed and renewed than you already would.