Massage itself is such a wonderful therapy to help with pain, achy muscles, tension, range of motion, circulation, and more. When used subsequently with other self-care tools, the side effects can be boosted and symptoms can improve even further. Here, we discuss 5 self-care tools that our massage therapists recommend to clients to help with symptom relief.
Stretching is beneficial to help keep tight muscles long and relaxed post-massage. Typically, your massage therapist will recommend a stretch or two to do at home between treatment sessions to target a specific muscle or muscle group. You should slowly ease into the stretch and stop right as you sense tightness without pain. Hold for 30 seconds or longer while keeping a steady breath. Release out of the stretch slowly and repeat several times throughout the day.
2. Heat and/or Ice
Heat and ice are both beneficial for varied reasons. You can read our blog post about it here to learn more. Your massage therapist will recommend which to use on the affected area to help with symptom relief. Heat is great at breaking up scar tissue and helping reduce muscle tension while ice is beneficial at reducing inflammation. Your physician may also make a recommendation based on your injury and which stage of inflammation you are in.
3. Keep a Journal
This self-care tool is commonly recommended by Kalena, one of our Licensed Massage Therapists, to help clients keep track of the relationship between their symptoms and daily activities. Kalena suggests to write down your own observations related to the affected area. Details such as pain, noticeable popping sounds, suspected injury details, what helps ease the symptoms, what makes the symptoms worse, length of symptoms, location of symptoms, and whatever else you find can help both you and your massage therapist create a specific treatment plan of action for your injury.
4. Foam Roller
Foam rollers are great tools to use in between massage sessions to help reduce tightness in muscles. Foam rollers also bring blood flow to these muscles and are used by many athletes to help with post-workout care. To use a foam roller, simply target the affected muscle and apply your body weight to it. Use less pressure if you are new to foam rolling so you can get used to the sensation. Roll with your body over the foam roller at a rate of less than 1 inch per second. You should feel the muscle being to relax after 30 seconds. If the muscle is too painful or tight, don’t try to increase the pressure- instead, move on and try to revisit it later. Avoid rolling over joints or bones. To target muscles in the lower back or neck, it is recommended to use a lacrosse ball instead (we sell them in our lobby for less than $5 per ball).
5. Strengthen Weak Muscles
The muscles in the body work like a balancing act- each muscle has an opposite muscle (called an antagonist) that works like a lever system to hold the body’s position in place (you can read more about body posture here). A basic example of a muscle antagonist pair is the biceps and triceps. When the bicep contracts, the triceps relax. When one muscle is overly tight, it means that the muscle’s antagonist is weak. You massage therapist can help you put together a list of muscles that are weak and ways to strengthen these muscles to reduce tightness in their antagonist.