Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.Full Bio
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Stress, anxiety, aches, pains and muscle tension: they're all facts of life.
And all good reasons to get a massage.
Learn more about Is Your Everyday Life Setting You Up for Pain?
It's great to be able to give yourself a massage at home and equally nice to go out for one. Either way, it's a treat. And because a massage can be such an integral tool to better health, you'll want to get the most of it.
Making the most of your massage is easy to do with one of the many at-home massagers from Wahl, like this Hot/Cold Therapy Massager. Right in your own hands you have the ability to choose the temperature and the pressure you'd like. There's a powerful, variable-speed motor and seven therapeutic attachments, including heating and cooling plates to give you complete and customized relief.
Things might not be quite as much under your control when you go out for a professional massage—but there are tips for making it better. After all, there's nothing worse than paying for a mediocre massage.
A massage is too good of a thing to waste. Here's how to get the best rubdown ever.
1. Know the various techniques when you book your appointment.
Swedish massage is gentle and uses a variety of strokes including long strokes, deep circular movements, kneading, tapping and vibration. Its goal is to energize and relax.
Deep massage (sometimes called deep tissue massage) targets the deep layers of muscles and connective tissue. It's commonly used to help relieve muscle tension and/or damage from injuries. The strokes are slower and more forceful.
Sports massage uses similar techniques to Swedish and can help prevent or treat injuries from sports activities. It might also include trigger point massage, which focuses on especially tight muscle fibers.
2. Give yourself time to relax ahead of time.
Sprinting into your massage with seconds to spare and lying down on the table with a racing pulse is not the best way to start. Arrive early. If the facility has showers, saunas or steam rooms, take advantage of their power to help you relax. This way, when you are ready to lie down on the table, you are putty in the hands of the expert.
3. Speak up.
Many massage therapists will ask about injuries or your medical history before leaving the room for you to disrobe, but they often don't ask other questions. Take the opportunity to add some details. Do you like gentle or firm pressure? A slow or a fast-paced massage? Feel free to ask the therapist to concentrate on certain body parts, too, like your feet, scalp, shoulders, hands or wherever else you'd like more attention. Don't expect them to read your mind. And if the force they're using is too heavy or light, let them know—they won't be offended.
4. Think about timing.
There's no magic hour to schedule a massage, but it's good to think about how it fits into your day. For instance, if you are a pile of mush after your massage, schedule it for the end of the day when you don't have any responsibilities and can let the relaxation last straight through to bedtime. On the other hand, if a massage invigorates and energizes you, consider it to be a great way to start your day.
5. Watch your food and drink intake.
A full bladder or belly can detract from the full benefits of a massage. You don't want to feel bladder pressure or tummy rumblings during your time of bliss, after all. Eating lightly one or two hours before your massage will give your body time to digest properly. And save the heavy drinking (water or tea, of course) for after the massage, when it's important to replenish your muscle tissues, which can become dehydrated during a massage.
6. Feel free to snooze.
Some people don't want to sleep and miss a minute of the massage; others can doze off effortlessly and still reap the benefits. If you get a chatty masseuse and prefer quiet, feel free to say something like, "I'm just going to close my eyes and mellow out now," or, "Wake me when it's over!"
7. If you're sore, don't ignore.
Since your muscles are being worked during a massage, they can get sore, similar to how they can feel after a workout. If they do, apply ice or do some light stretching or yoga to ease the tenderness and keep everything in harmony.
Now, lie down, relax and be ready to say "ahhhhhh."
This post originally appeared on mysocalledmidlife.net.