A massage can be relaxing. It can be luxurious. It can be indulgent.
And while I like to show myself some love with body treatments, these days I’ve been turning to massage for restorative purposes. Massage is a wonderful way to promote recovery – It loosens your muscles, increases blood flow, and when integrated properly, it can reduce soreness so that you can put in more time training.
When I’m training for a race – Like the Kaiser Half Marathon earlier this month – Massage becomes an important part of my training regime.
I’m excited to be partnering up with massage therapist Deidre Corda to chat about how massage can be used to improve recovery.
MCLV: Can you tell everyone a bit about your company, what you offer, and your specialties?
Deidre: The short answer is: I offer in-home massages that are 100% personalized. Because every session is personalized and includes a variety of techniques, I only charge based on the length of the session, not based on which techniques I use. Charging more for a deep tissue or sports massage versus a Swedish is ridiculous!
Right now my client base is pretty equally divided among athletes, frequent travelers and moms! It’s a pretty diverse group which keeps it interesting. The travelers are particularly interesting to me at the moment. I’ve been studying up on the best ways to regain and maintain balance despite the negative effects that travel has on the body (muscle fatigue, sickness, anxiety, digestive issues, etc).
A good example of a session with me (here comes the long answer!) is my “traveler’s massage. It varies from client to client, day-to-day, but usually it consists of deep tissue and stretching to combat muscle fatigue from things like extra walking, weird beds or cramped travel situations. Lymphatic drainage massage is used to stimulate the lymph to ensure the immune system has a properly flowing waste removal system. The drainage also works wonders for sinus pressure! I balance all of that out with Swedish massage and restorative energy work to make sure my clients can sink deeply into relaxation and calm any anxieties they might have. That’s all in one session by the way!
MCLV: I’ve always appreciated the restorative effects of massage – Can you walk us through how massage can be used as a tool to aid in muscle recovery?
Deidre: Sure! But let’s get something out-of-the-way first, our bodies have every intention of healing themselves and correcting imbalances, but sometimes they need a little reminding.
The most important task of a massage therapist is to get the client to fully relax and surrender. This relaxation state is known as the parasympathetic nervous system which is the opposite of what we have turned on for 90% of our waking hours (“fight or flight”). All you need to do is breath and focus on letting go.
Once the client has dropped into the parasympathetic, we can literally feel the muscles melting as we sink deeper to find adhesions, tension, scar tissue, muscles that are firing even when they aren’t being used, etc. We use different techniques to release and bring attention to these areas of discomfort. It’s really all about awareness and being present with your body in order to heal.
MCLV: How often would you recommend getting massages during an intense training program? How often for someone who works out regularly but isn’t necessarily pushing their body to the limits regularly?
Deidre: Our bodies need consistency in order to integrate massage and not bounce back to their previous state in a day or 2. This is why frequency with massage is so important. It doesn’t really matter how intense your workouts are, if you aren’t getting massage regularly, you will need to start with at least bi-weekly or weekly sessions until you start to feel that the effects of the massage don’t just disappear after a few days.
Once your body is integrating the bodywork, you can alter your schedule based on your work out routine. If it is an intense program, you will benefit from keeping up with at least 2 massages per month. Otherwise, monthly would be the minimum.
One note on working out and deep tissue massage: do not request deep tissue when you are sore (I mean really sore, not just a little muscle fatigue). A lot of clients think they need deep tissue massages right after an intense workout, but because of the micro-tears in their muscles from the work out, deep tissue massage will have a negative effect. It will only cause more harm to the muscle fibers and potentially increase inflammation and prolong the soreness.
MCLV: In your experience, what’s the best way to integrate massage into a healthy life? Would you recommend anything before or after to improve the results? (water, stretching, food etc)
Deidre: Integration is the key! Like I said previously, frequency is the first step. Getting a massage once in a blue moon expecting it to “fix” your discomfort is like eating a salad once and thinking you’re going to suddenly have your dream body. That’s not how bodies work.
Water is always the #1 recommendation after a massage. Not because it flushes out toxins or lactic acid, those claims are unfounded, but simply because your body and your muscles need water in order to function. If they can’t function, they definitely won’t be able to heal.
Another key is taking time to relax before and after your massage. This is one of the main reasons I offer in-home massages! You are already relaxed in your own home and after the session you don’t have to switch over to high alert mode to battle traffic or take public transportation. Unfortunately, this sudden change can sometimes undo the work on the table.
As for stretching, that depends largely on what issues you have and what your body is up to. I always talk to my clients about home care and ways to prolong the benefits of each session. That might be stretching, heat, ice, movement, more/less frequent sessions, shorter sessions, longer sessions etc.
I really loved hearing her answers – Especially about frequency and developing a routine. I’m also thrilled to share that Deidre has a referral program! If you refer a friend, you both get $25 off a massage! You can reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do YOU think – Would you turn to a massage therapist to help with recovery?