“It’s important to remember that increasing activity can take a toll on our bodies,” says DeJuan Williams, massage therapy lead instructor at Everest College – St. Louis. “While there are many ways to ensure that our muscles, bones and joints stay healthy and injury-free, massage therapy is a great way to decrease stress, improve circulation and minimize fatigue.”
Williams offers these tips for achieving the best massage therapy experience:
Start slowly.If you’ve been less active, give your body time to adjust and ease into more outdoor activities. “Having patience with your body can help minimize soreness,” says Williams. “You may experience some discomfort after resuming strenuous outdoor activities, but massage therapy can play a role in providing comfort after an intense day.”
Find the right professional.Once you’ve decided to begin massage therapy, find a professional therapist who is licensed, insured and has academic credentials. “Reading online reviews and getting personal recommendations from friends are great sources,” says Williams.
Ensure compatibility. At your first appointment, have a list of questions ready to determine if you’re compatible with the massage therapist. “Ask them before you begin, to ensure you’re comfortable with the therapist,” says Williams. “You should also disclose any current health issues you’re facing, in order to have the safest, most effective session.”
Customize your therapy. Discuss with the therapist any massage preferences you have, including depth of pressure, room temperature and music. “During the massage, feel free to speak up and let the therapist know if you’d like to adjust any aspects of the therapy,” says Williams.
Relax and enjoy. The key to getting all the benefits of a massage is to relax your body and mind. Stopping or limiting your breathing during a massage can cause you to become tense and potentially hinder the effectiveness of your massage. “Especially if a particular muscle or joint area is sensitive from recent outdoor activity, try to breathe normally,” says Williams. “Massages should never hurt, so be sure to communicate any discomfort immediately.”
Stay hydrated, stay healthy. Making sure you’re hydrated can help you to feel better pre- and post-massage. “Always drink extra fluids before and after massages to ensure that your muscles are hydrated, and to help flush toxins from the body,” says Williams. “Just as it’s important to be disciplined with a steady workout regimen, a consistent massage therapy plan can boost your overall health and keep you feeling great all summer.”