The idea of a massage may conjure images of a relaxing day at the spa sipping cucumber water. However, massage is so much more than a luxury. It can also improve posture, relieve pain, and address chronic health issues.
Fascia is a thin connective tissue throughout the body that links your muscles, bones, and organs. “Your fascia runs continually from your head to your toes. If you have tightness in your shoulder, the fascia can pull into your back, hip, and even down your leg,” says Sheila L. Kelly, licensed massage therapist and John F. Barnes myofascial release therapist. Myofascial release is a technique designed to eradicate these restrictions and free up the fascia.
Myofascial release is different from massage. “It works at a deeper cellular level than massage. The holds are longer than traditional massage. During the treatment we use gentle to medium pressure, but sink slowly and hold for at least five minutes,” says Sheila. John Barnes, a founder of this technique, explains it as “a hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion.”
Before Your Appointment
You should talk to the therapist prior to your appointment. Ask questions about the types of massage techniques they use, and identify specific areas of pain or discomfort you want to target. It is critical to discuss any medical issues — blood clots, past surgeries or joint replacements, recent injuries, varicose veins, skin issues, or vertigo should be disclosed. Most therapists will have an intake conversation or form for you to complete. “Therapists should have an intake; if they don’t have one this could be a warning sign,” advises Reg.
During Your Appointment
You are in control. If the pressure doesn’t feel right, speak up. If something is causing pain, speak up. “You are the client and you are the boss,” says Reg. Some people enjoy conversation during a massage, especially to get to know the therapist, others prefer less interaction. Whatever you prefer, your therapist should honor your choice.
After Your Appointment
Increase your water intake for several days after your massage. “Toxins can be stirred up during a massage and you want to flush your system,” Reg advises. Sheila recommends filling a pitcher with water so you can visually see how much water you are consuming. It is easy to underestimate how much you are drinking. She also recommends adding fruit and minerals to your post-massage water.
“Walking and stretching are good after a myofascial release session, but don’t overdo it. Your body needs a day or two to readjust,” says Sheila. Some muscle soreness can occur after a massage, but this pain should abate within 2-3 days. If you are experiencing prolonged soreness, or the appearance of new bruises, contact your therapist.
By Tami Pyles
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