If you’ve ever been to a massage therapist before, you know that the treatment doesn’t actually end when you get off the table. Your therapist will usually give you specific aftercare instructions (depending on your treatment) like drinking plenty of water, avoiding tea and coffee, avoiding strenuous activity, or taking a hot bath. These aftercare instructions may even extend to specific stretches or exercises you can do at home to continue to improve your range of motion, relieve pain, or release tension.
At its heart, massage therapy is about whole-body wellness. Registered massage therapists go through a lot of intense training, and it goes a lot deeper than just relieving tension in sore muscles (literally and figuratively!). In order to get maximum benefits for clients, massage therapists learn a great deal about general health and wellness. One of the main tenets of health is a strong body. Let’s look at why that is and how you can work on strengthening your body on the massage table and at home.
Building Muscle Mass Extends Your Life
According to a study in The American Journal of Medicine, muscle mass is a better predictor of lifespan than BMI (body mass index). Although the focus for extending lifespan has traditionally been placed on weight loss, we might want to shift those views to embrace a different kind of exercise goal: building muscle. The long-term study followed 3,600 seniors, and although it’s careful not to lay out a cause and effect relationship between muscle mass and lifespan, they’re definitely correlated in some way, which means it’s a great place to focus on.
It’s particularly important for women to build muscle mass, as the correlation between muscle mass and mortality risk is nearly six times as high for women than it is for men.
Bring On the Sore Muscles!
Although no one wants to go to bed at night feeling the strain of those 100 deadlifts, sore muscles can indicate that you’re building muscle mass.
Massage aids in relieving pain and tension from stiff muscles, but it can also help with recovery after an intense workout by decreasing the inflammatory response and increasing circulation. This leads to faster healing and less pain.
It’s best to avoid deep tissue massages until you’ve had a day or two to rest after a tough session at the gym. You’ll likely want to try a lighter massage that increases circulation without going too deep, such as a hot stone massage treatment. And, if you’ve injured yourself while working out, be sure to consult a doctor before going for massage therapy.
The Benefits of Strengthening Your Body
Strengthening your muscle mass can lead to better mobility and balance, as well as surprising side effects like a faster metabolism.
Mobility is a particularly important benefit of strengthening your body because it has such a major impact on quality of life, especially for those over the age of 55 years. Many of our clients are concerned about losing their mobility, which prevents them from doing activities they love, as well as completing normal tasks like carrying groceries or cleaning.
It becomes even more important to continue purposefully building muscle mass as you age because, after age 30, you naturally lose muscle mass at a rate of about 3-5% per decade. If you aren’t actively rebuilding that mass, your lifespan could be impacted negatively.
Tips for Strengthening Your Body
Massage and Strengthening Exercises
Keeping your body strong is an easier process when your body is relaxed and your muscles are moving smoothly. That’s why massage therapy supports you while you build and maintain muscle mass.
Keep in mind that for the best massage aftercare, you shouldn’t do any strenuous activity for about 24 hours after your treatment. However, stretching is extremely beneficial, and so are light strengthening exercises, such as these six simple exercises you can do at home (or pretty much anywhere).
A few other ways to strengthen your body include:
- Resistance exercises that use your body weight (like sit-ups and push-ups) or resistance bands
- Lifting free weights or using weight machines
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Whatever you do, it’s important that it’s something you enjoy. If you like variety, try a few different online exercise videos on YouTube. Or, if you do better in a group setting, head to your local gym and find a class that helps you build strength.
However, like most aspects of your health, keep your exercise routine well-balanced. Don’t skip out on cardio, as it helps build muscle mass and improves the health of your cardiovascular system. And remember, even a few minutes a day is better than nothing, so don’t feel bad about starting slow!
Strengthening When You Have Injuries
If you have tension, strains, or injuries that are preventing you from doing regular strengthening exercises, treatments like therapeutic massage or myofascial cupping may be just what you need to get back on track. Therapeutic massage aims at relieving specific symptoms or pain points using a variety of techniques. So, if you have pain in a specific part of your body, switch your usual relaxation massage to a therapeutic massage to work deeper into your muscles and tissues.
Focus on Whole-Body Wellness with Massage Therapy in St. Albert
We encourage all of our clients to work on whole-body wellness alongside their massage therapy treatments. When you combine the healing effects of massage with the strengthening effects of exercise, you’ll immediately feel the difference in your health, energy, and range of motion.
As we mentioned above, strengthening your body becomes more important as you age. If you’re approaching retirement age and you feel like you need to start a new health routine, feel free to reach out to our Registered Massage Therapists. They can determine a wellness plan that includes different types of treatment to help relieve aches and pains and treat various conditions. Then, they can show you stretches and exercises to continue your wellness journey at home. We can even provide referrals to other healthcare providers in St. Albert.
Get in touch with our massage therapists today to start strengthening your body so you can live comfortably and age gracefully.