Which Is Better, Massage or Stretching?

Massage and stretching are both really helpful ways to keep your muscles relaxed, reduce tension and of course help recovery after an injury. Stretching helps to get the blood flowing to
your muscles, which is great if you’ve injured yourself, or if your muscled are stiff because they’ve contracted due to inactivity.

Giving your muscles a really good stretch can stop your muscles from going into painful spasms or cramps, and stop the knots forming in them that take so much work to get rid of when you
have a massage!

Regular massage on the other hand improves your flexibility and range of motion, keeping your joints more fluid and making them less injury prone in the first place.

What are the differences between massage and stretches – and how do they work together to promote muscle and joint health?

Massage
What is a massage? Well, stripped right down, massage is simply a word that’s used to describe the manipulation of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue. Of course there are lots of
different types of massage, and techniques that are suitable for different things, but when you go for a massage, this is what your therapist will be doing.

What’s massage good for?
We love a massage for general wellbeing, but medically massage is recognized for more than just making you feel good.

Massage can:

  • Help strained muscles to heal faster
  • Reduce swelling and scar tissue if you’re injured
  • Relieve stiffness and tension in your muscles
  • Reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and fatigue

Stretching
Stretching does have a lot of similarities to massage, but its main benefit is to relieve the tightness and tension that’s built up in your muscles when you’ve used (and over-used) them. Having a really good, effective stretch can increase the blood flow to your muscles, and this leads to a better range of motion that helps your joints to stay in alignment.

What’s stretching good for?

Stretching properly can:

  • Improve your circulation
  • Boost your nerve health – a contracted muscle around a nerve can create pressure that can constrict the blood supply to the nerve.
  • Make movement easier
  • Improve flexibility

How can massage and a stretching routine work together?
Daily stretching – to a point where you can just feel it pulling on your muscles – can really help to increase your flexibility, and you can feel the effects in a matter of a few weeks.

Enjoying a regular massage helps to keep your body relaxed and flexible. Massage can release trigger points and muscles in spasm, making your stretching routine even more effective.

You could even opt for a Thai massage which uses stretches and massage all in one session to give your muscles and tendons a really thorough workout. You can also ask your massage therapist for advice if you have any injuries or are experiencing stiffness in your muscles.

Daily Quick Stretching

Having a good stretch once or twice a day feels good and can help prevent injuries (flexible muscles can do more), improve your posture (and as a result help with back pain), increase blood and nutrients to your muscles, and help you to feel less stressed.

Here’s what I do:
Spinal Stretch – lie on your back, bring your knee to your chest and then across your body. So your right knee will go over to the left side of your body. Hold this for at least 30 seconds. Then stretch the other side.

Forward bend – Sit with your legs straight out in front of you stretch your arms up to the sky and then bend forward as far as you can.

Spinal Twist- still sitting with your legs in front of you, bend one knee to your chest then twist your body and hug your bent leg.

Other quick stretches (you can do these at your desk)

Clasp your hands behind you and pull back to stretch your chest.

Hold your arm in front of your body and stretch it into your chest

Stretch your neck from side to side or do neck rolls

I bet you are feeling better already!

Also check out You Tube for some quick stretching routines:

5 Office Stretches

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2Q9AIMCj3o

Should Massage Hurt?

Have you been wondering if a massage has to hurt to be effective?
If so, you are not alone. Many people believe that a massage has to hurt in order to be effective. Well it doesn’t! You’ll be happy to hear that the saying, “No pain, no gain” doesn’t apply to massage therapy. Sometimes the most effective massages are the ones that don’t cause you any pain. Something that feels marvelous, and it’s good for you too? It doesn’t get much better than that!

Deep Tissue Massage might cause some discomfort….
A deep tissue massage is when the massage therapist manipulates the deeper layers of your soft tissue. Soft tissue includes your muscles, ligaments, fascia, and tendons (it’s pretty much everything that isn’t bones or organs). Usually your massage therapist will use lotions or oil, and will work lighter at first, this is important, it helps relax the top layer of tissue and muscle, meaning less pain for you. Then the deeper layers of muscle can be worked on more easily and with less pain. This will feel much better and you will get better results!

Typically, deep tissue massage is recommended for those with chronic pain caused by tight muscles or injuries. Deep tissue massage can be very therapeutic because it helps with relieving patterns of tension that have developed over time and helping with muscle injuries. With a good deep tissue session massage will feel more relaxed after the massage if no pain was endured during it. It’s hard (nearly impossible) to relax if you are in pain, and muscle tension will release in a state of relaxation.

Deep tissue massage is not for everyone! You are not a wimp if you don’t like it. It is one of the more involved and intense massage techniques. Some people simply like the feeling of more pressure, and a firm massage isn’t always deep tissue. Just be sure to communicate with your therapist about what you prefer and need. Speak up your therapist will appreciate your feedback, happy clients are regular clients, and your therapist wants you to love your massage.

Pain versus Discomfort
Muscles naturally react to any sort of pain. When your muscles feel that your body is about to be injured the reflex to deflect the pain is stimulated. If your massage therapist is ever applying too much pressure, your muscles tighten together to naturally counterattack the force, and that is not a great way to relax. A massage is meant to relieve the tension of your muscles so if you feel as though the massage therapist is applying too much pressure for comfort, just ask them to use less pressure. Seriously, they want you to.

Don’t go into the massage thinking there won’t be any discomfort at all though. Pain and discomfort are two different things. People usually describe discomfort as a “good hurt” – especially in reference to getting a massage. When you experience pain during a massage, it is more than discomfort and could even cause bruising or injury.

Everybody has different tolerances for pain, so a massage that is painful for one person may not be painful for you. If you find that your massage therapist isn’t working between your tolerance levels for pain, then it’s important that you say something. Massages should almost never cause you physical pain and very rarely is it okay for you to be left with marks on your body afterwards.

If you are booking your first massage, you probably don’t want to start out with a deep tissue session. Ease your way into massage therapy and start with something less specific, like Swedish or integrative massage. Most therapists combine massage techniques and will try to give you the best massage for you.

How Often Should You Get A Massage?

How Often Should You Get A Massage?

Every day! Well, maybe that’s not practical, even though it would be nice. This is one of the most common questions clients ask about massage therapy, and it really all depends on WHY you get massages. Do you get massages for health benefits? Or, to help you relax and handle the stress of everyday life? Most likely it’s a combination of the two, so let’s look at some of the most common reasons to get regular massages:

Relaxation & Stress Relief
One of the very best reasons to get a massage is for relaxation. Relaxation massage helps to support your body, including blood circulation and flexibility of joints. Regular massage can help prevent pain, muscle tension, and stress points from building up and causing problems. Why wait until you have a problem to get a massage? Massage is perfect for preventing issues with your tissues. Relaxation massage is usually recommended at least once per month, or as often as you want!

There may be times in your life where you experience higher levels of stress and more muscle tension than normal. It is especially important to practice good self-care during these times. When we “don’t have time” for a massage, is usually when we need one the most. Make yourself a priority even during stressful times, your health is worth it.

If you are in a high-stress job or you work in an environment where you stay in a certain position for a long period of time (at a computer for example), you may begin to develop tight or “knotted” muscles. This will frequently occur in your shoulders, arms, and back. All of this increased muscle tension will make movement harder and can cause a great deal of pain. Regular massage can help to keep you loosened up and will help to prevent pain and stiffness.

Living with high levels of stress for a prolonged amount of time increases the risk of contracting heart disease and other diseases. It has been estimated that 75 – 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress related problems. The good news is, massage can help! Just knowing your massage is coming up in a few days can help to relieve stress, and a massage every 2-4 weeks will help with stress related tension.

Sports Recovery
Are you a weekend warrior, or do you just like to stay in shape? Either way, massage can help with sports performance and recovery. Many athletes and physically active people receive sports massage because it enhances their performance, prevents injury, and speeds up their muscles’ recovery. Competitive sports can put a lot of stress on a person’s muscles! Research conducted at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging at McMaster University in Ontario shows that massage reduces inflammation and stimulates the growth of new mitochondria, the energy-producing units in the cells, after strenuous exercise. This means that massage can help relieve pain, build muscles and help with muscle recovery too! For these benefits it is recommended that you get a massage up to three times a week or at least three times a month.

Chronic Health Conditions
People with ongoing health issues often find massage very helpful to alleviate symptoms. Chronic health problems that greatly benefit from massage therapy include back pain, joint pain, and localized inflammation. If you get therapy for specific issues, the frequency of getting massage therapy varies with the type of condition you have and how severe it is. Relief from pain can usually be achieved with 2-4 massage sessions per month. Your massage therapist will work with you to help you get on the best schedule for your body.

Pregnancy
Pregnant women can greatly benefit from massage therapy! Prenatal massage and is popular among expectant mothers, who often experience a lot of aches and pains as their pregnancy progresses. Many women suffer from back pain, hip & sciatic pain, headaches, and tired legs & feet. But you don’t have to, a certified massage therapist can help to relieve those discomforts.
Going to your massage therapist once or twice a month can help with the symptoms caused by pregnancy, and it can even help you sleep better. Of course, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor and your massage therapist to ensure that you don’t have any pregnancy related conditions that would contraindicate massage therapy for you. Most women experiencing a healthy pregnancy can and should enjoy regular massage sessions.