A massage is generally thought of as a relaxing and pleasurable experience. And anybody who has experienced the euphoria of a really good massage, you know that you get off the table feeling completely at peace with the world and incandescently happy. Your massage therapist reminds you to take it easy for the rest of the day and drink plenty of water. And while you may hear the words, you may not take the words to heart and then you go on about your day as normal. Then something happens as you sleep that night. When you wake up the next morning, your muscles are sore and you start to wonder if your massage therapist jacked something up.
But before you pick up the phone to give them a thing or two, consider what is really happening in your body after a massage. A massage is similar to exercising. The motions of the massage force blood into the muscles. This increases oxygenation to the cells and pushes out toxins and cellular waste. This can temporarily increase inflammation in the muscles, which causes discomfort, aches and pains. This typically lasts up to 36 hours post-massage. And just like treating sore muscles after an intense workout, rest, water and heat will be your friends if you are experiencing soreness after a massage.
Water is vital for life. We all know that, but many of us don’t really apply it. However, after a massage it is even more important to drink plenty of water. As mentioned above, the cells are releasing toxins and cellular debris after a massage. While drinking more water after a massage is frequently recommended to help flush out toxins more quickly, this is actually not a real thing. What is happening though is that the muscles are being energized by the intake of water after a massage. The act of massage actually creates a mild trauma to the muscles, but water intake counters that and allows the muscles to heal with less pain.
The lymphatic system is responsible for maintaining our immune system, but it is also an important component in the removal of cellular debris and waste. The lymph fluid serves as the transport system between the cells and the bloodstream. Inadequate water supply causes the lymphatic system to become sluggish, which can lead to increased muscle soreness after a massage. In other words, drink more water, especially after a good massage.
Rest is another recommendation that most massage therapists will give as you are leaving their office after your massage session. And if you don’t take heed, you can wake up the next day feeling achy and sore. After a massage, you really have to listen to your body. If you need to take an afternoon off, read a book or take a nap, you should do just that. You’ve just given your body the relaxation it has been begging for and jumping right back into your busy routine is completely counterintuitive. Not to mention, that your muscles will tighten right back up, which means you’ve just thrown away a chunk of change. Your muscles have just been manipulated and worked in a way that is similar to an intense workout. Now is the time for recovery and repair. Just relax and enjoy the downtime.
Massage therapy is an amazing tool to have when it comes to self-care. But knowing how your body will react is also important. Be sure to schedule your massage when you have enough time to recuperate. That way your chances of being sore afterward are less likely and your money has been spent well.