Benefits of Stretching to Get More from Massage Therapy
Whether you’re an armchair athlete or a decorated Olympian, it’s a good idea to warm up and cool down your muscles with some stretching before and after exercise.
Stretching leads to positive, prolonged results when combined with massage therapy. In fact, the best outcomes are typically achieved when stretching becomes part of a person’s daily routine.
A post-massage stretch can help alleviate any pain or soreness you may feel following a treatment. Such soreness could be related to existing pain or tension in your body or the massage’s intensity. Deep tissue massage stimulates our muscles in the same way exercise does, increasing blood flow and friction between the fibres. Stretching helps release muscle tension and improves both flexibility and circulation, reducing soreness and extending the massage’s beneficial effects.
Between treatments, continued stretching can deliver improved results the next time you visit your massage therapist. Here’s how incorporating stretching into your routine can help you feel better and get more out of your massage treatments.
Stretching increases flexibility
Regular stretching makes our joints and muscles more flexible, counteracting the shortening and tightening that comes with ageing. Better flexibility and reduced tightness lower the risk of tension and injury.
Stretching gives an enhanced range of motion
The more range of motion we have in our joints, the more we can take advantage of increased flexibility in those joints. By making regular stretching part of your routine, you’ll help balance and increase your body’s range of motion.
Stretching helps blood flow
When you stretch, you increase circulation by making more room in your tissue to expand blood vessels. This boosts the flow of oxygen and improves waste removal.
Excited to start stretching? See what kinds of results you can achieve by doing these four simple stretches every day:
1. Forward Fold
Start in a standing position with your arms and shoulders relaxed. Bend forward at the waist. Let your upper body hang and allow gravity to go to work on your spine, rather than reaching toward your toes. Tuck your chin into your chest to disengage your neck muscles. As you slowly stand up straight, push from your hips and abdominals so that your head and shoulders are the last parts of your body to return to upright. This movement will stretch your calves and hamstrings while reducing neck and shoulder tension.
2. Knee Hold
Lie on your back and tuck your hips forward, so your low back curve is flattened. Bend one knee up to your chest, holding it in place with your hands. Maintain the pose for at least 30 seconds before switching to the other leg. Especially flexible people can increase resistance by pushing your knee up into your hands. This position helps relax lower back muscles. Vary the stretch by holding your knee out to the side to open up your hips or crossing it over the opposite leg.
3. Cat and Cow
Get down on all fours and flatten your back into a tabletop. As you inhale, let your belly drop while raising your head and tailbone for a cow pose. As you exhale, tuck your chin into your chest and arch your back for a cat pose. Repeat each pose 3 to 5 times to strengthen the spine while improving posture and balance.
4. Standing Arm Pull and Bend
From a standing position, with your feet together, lift both arms overhead—alternate reaching the fingertips of each hand higher and higher. Keep your arms still and lean from side to side to stretch your rib and oblique muscles. Deepen the stretch by pulling the right wrist over your left shoulder as you side bend to the left and vice versa.