During my time as a mobile massage therapist, clients have asked me a lot of questions about how to benefit most out of their massage. The most common queries are about skin condition, when the best time is to have a massage, what to do before and after, and what massage frequency is best.
You would be surprised about how many outside factors contribute to the potential health benefits possible from your massage. Of course, massage will always leave you feeling relaxed, de-stressed, and clear-headed, but there are potential physiological health benefits too. Correct preparation is key. I’m going to give you a few tips to maximize these benefits by preparing your body and mind beforehand.
First, let’s start with the question:
What should I do/avoid before and after my massage?
If you decide on an evening massage after the workday, remember to just eat something light for dinner. Salad, soup, or toast are all good choices. After about 30 minutes, prepare yourself a bath so you can relax your muscles pre-massage. If you want you can also do a bit of scrubbing. Use one of the homemade scrub recipes below to open your pores and top off the relaxing experience. Now you are ready for the massage.
There are things you can do after your massage to improve the health benefits as well. Many people prefer a shower after the massage, but it’s actually best to leave the oil on your skin. This keeps your body hydrated, which by the way is especially important if you have received an aromatherapy massage. The various essential oils your therapist might use have specific useful nutrients and the organic oils will nourish and hydrate your skin all the more if left on to dissolve naturally. If you do feel discomfort from leaving the oils on, you could also always ask the therapist to useless. If you absolutely feel compelled to shower after your massage, I still strongly suggest waiting for at least one hour. This lets your skin rehydrate and one of massage’s best benefits – the improvement in blood flow – still has time to take effect. During your massage your therapist will stimulate the lymph glands, relaxing your body and helping you to flush out toxins. Showering immediately afterward will shock your body you won’t receive 100% of the benefits.
Do I prepare differently for a morning massage?
A morning or daytime massage is also an excellent option! To prepare, simply ensure that you have an opportunity to clean your body if possible (dust from outside in combination with the oil in your skin can provoke some irritations or allergies). Also, be sure to avoid meals for two hours before the massage, as well as one hour after.
When is the best time to have a massage?
Any hour of the day is good, just choose a time when you won’t need to rush off somewhere after. Of course, immediately after a big party or stressful presentation is not a good time to have a massage. You won’t be relaxed and your reactions will be much harder to predict – it’s better to wait a few hours.
What about allergic reactions or sensitivities during a massage?
If you had any injuries or allergies it is best to discuss this with a pharmacist or GP. Your massage therapist can respond to advise, but won’t be familiar enough with your medical history or hold the qualifications to give it.
Can I have a massage during pregnancy?
In the first trimester, it’s recommended to avoid massages. During this time your baby is still an embryo and the increase in blood flow rate can affect your pregnancy. Even after the first trimester I strongly recommend that you discuss it with your doctor first.
How often should I have a massage?
If you choose a Swedish, deep tissue, detox or aromatherapy massage the ideal frequency is about once a week. If that’s unrealistic try for at least once a month, but the best outcomes occur with regular visits. The practice of massage doesn’t only help your body to relax but to stay toned as well, to eliminate toxins, to normalize your blood pressure and of course to promote a healthy glow in the skin.
What should I use for a massage if I have dry, oily or combination skin?
The information above is mainly relevant for ‘normal’ skin types. For other skin types:
- For dry skin: I recommend a regular application of natural body lotion after your shower/bath, and also to gently scrub the skin once a week. Massage is beneficial twice a week for dry skin. You can consider doing a self-massage as well.
- For oily skin: A weekly massage is perfect. I propose that you use organic coconut oil (for its lightness) or grapeseed oil. You’ll notice better effects if you combine either of these with essential oils. They have properties to stimulate and rejuvenate the body and massage will help the oil to be easily absorbed. Your skin will be nourished and toxins will be eliminated.
- For combination skin: Either a sesame oil or grapeseed oil should provide a good level of hydration.
Massage Therapist with 7 years experience at 5 stars London hotels and spas, Baby Massage Instructor, Yoga and Pilates Instructor, Tantra for Women Instructor. Graduated Copenhagen, Natha Yoga Center.