Saturday, 16 August 2008

Warm Up With Your Massage Stones Before a Massage

Can a massage with massage stones be a workout? Well, not in the sense that you get the same cardiovascular workout as running around on a sports field, or peddling for half an hour on an exercise bicycle. There is no heavy lifting. There is no heavy pushing or pulling. In fact, the most movement you will engage in during a massage, is moving from your back, to your stomach--and then vice-versa. So are warm-up and cool-down periods necessary before and after your massage? Conventional wisdom says that since a massage is not a typical cardiovascular workout, no need exists to prepare your body for it, or slowly return to your body’s normal mode. But is that correct?

More than muscles
Before determining whether a warm-up and cool-down period is needed after a massage with hot stones, we should examine some of the benefits of such massages. They include:

• Relaxed muscles
• Improved range of motion
• Lower heart rate
• Decreased blood pressure
• Better blood circulation
• Increased endorphins (improving medical treatment)

Can a therapeutic massage build muscle, as weightlifting does? No, but massages can excite muscles that have been weak and unused. This is beneficial for people who have been inactive for a while, after suffering from an injury, for example.

So while getting a massage with massage stones will not make you winded or exhausted per se, the kneading of the muscles and the use of hot stones, gives your body a “light workout.” In fact, you could think of it as a warm-up stretching exercise before a cardiovascular workout—without the cardiovascular workout.

The low-down on warm-ups (and cool-downs)

A warm-up exercise is used before a workout, to start stretching the muscles, and increasing your heart rate. It is a slow transition from normal mode to exercise mode. Similarly, a cool-down activity will shift you back to normal mode. Before performing strenuous exercising, warm-ups and cool-downs are vital for preparing the body for a workout, and can even be effective in preventing injuries.

Workout without motion

Is a warm-up and cool-down activity necessary before or after your massage with hot rocks? Yes, and no. Stretching before the massage is not necessary, as the massage itself serves as a type of stretching. Similarly, there is no need to jog around the building after your massage, to allow your heart rate to drop to its normal value.

However, before your massage with massage stones, it is important for you to gradually move your mind and body into a relaxing mode. Incense, peaceful music and soft lighting are some ways to prepare you well for the massage. These elements will help to make the massage experience with hot stones, a holistic one that involves senses other than the sense of touch involved in the massage itself.

Likewise, after the massage is over, your mind and body will need to gradually return to their pre-massage state. Again, this process will be less drastic than the ones needed before and after a cardiovascular workout. Nonetheless, you will still need to “recover” from the massage. Some of the most common methods are drinking a hot cup of green tea, or sleeping. With sleeping, you cool down into somewhat of a frozen state. But even if you do not catch a catnap, resting alone will serve as an excellent cool-down.

Like a computer that needs to be booted up and shut down, your body needs a gradual transition from normal mode to massage mode—and then back again. A “warm-up” and “cool-down” period will help to make this transition smoother whenever you enjoy a massage with hot stones. Make sure that the temperature range of your body coincides with the range of the massage stone. Warm-up while the stone does!

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