If you have been following my fitness journey, procrastination is an evident theme. Fitness as a habit is a concept that still evades me. As I’ve been searching for ways to make fitness less of a chore, I have discovered a fitness-related activity that I can absolutely get behind. It involves another person, a bed, and maybe some Enya. Any guesses?
Massage therapy. That’s what you were thinking of, right? Massage therapy may not be an active exercise, but it can benefit your fitness journey.
I started getting massages a few years ago to combat my migraines. I discovered that if I have a massage at least once every two months, my migraine rate reduces drastically. I have gone from having two or three migraines a month to rarely having one. Not only have massages lowered their frequency, but they have also reduced their duration. I went from having migraines lasting 48 hours each to ones I could quell within six hours. One of my favourite benefits of this is my reduced intake of painkillers. I went from taking the maximum dose of extra-strength ibuprofen each day to only needing a single dose at the start of my symptoms. Therapeutic massages have been vital in increasing my quality of life.
While I started my massage journey because of my migraines, I have found another wonderfully beneficial use for them: post-workout relief. Since I have yet to make fitness part of my daily routine, each time I engage in a heart-pumping, sweat-inducing session, I feel it in my entire body the next day—and the next day, and the next day, and the next day. Whether I swim, run, lift weights, clean, or even lift my kids up more frequently in a day, I become very sore. Lactic acid crowds my muscles, and I am left regretting pouring my self-care time into something that hurts my physical body.
This is not to say that massages don’t have some painful moments. If I go too long between sessions, or if I cheat on proper body positioning, my trouble spots put up a fight to remain tight. My massage therapist, a lovely Mexican woman who works out of her home, does not lose the fight. Ever. She is a muscle whisperer. I’m sure her previous experience as a physiotherapist adds to her anatomical knowledge, but it’s her intuitiveness with the body that makes her stand apart from other massage therapists that I’ve experienced.
Does she hurt me sometimes? Yes. However, the relief from her oscillating thumbs proves the experience worth it. Soon the pain follows her hands as they knead the tension into submission. My lymphatic system breathes relief as the tension is pushed away from its source. My immune system makes note of the restored balance to my body’s fluids. Everything flows healthily again.
Even after I make intentional fitness a regular habit, I fully intend to keep up with my massages. The health benefits from working out plus the health benefits from massages equal a physically and psychologically healthy me. It’s too good to pass up.
Massage allows my tight muscles to loosen and release the pent-up lactic acid, making my metabolism more efficient. The opportunity to be silent and abandon my stresses is life-giving. Massage is post-workout care, and it’s self-care. For a busy mom, it is one of the best hours of my month.
So do yourself a favour and add a massage routine to your life. When you add it, be intentional in your search for a great massage therapist. When you find them, visit them regularly. When you visit them, leave your mental load at the door, and enjoy a relaxing and healing hour.
Do you have a massage therapist that you adore? Brag away in the comments below.
Stephanie Morris is a transcriptionist and writer based in Alberta, Canada. She is a wife, a mom of two, and a newcomer to the career-writing world. As a fancier of history and literature, she aspires to blend the two in fiction and nonfiction pieces. To follow Stephanie’s writing adventures, find her at @words.and.smores on Instagram.