Many clients have asked me how soon after an event or training they should get a recovery massage. The answer: AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Follow these steps and then get your butt in here.
1) Catch your breath. During physical exertion your body is holding a lot of oxygen in your blood cells. Take the time to breathe deeply and allow your heart rate to slow. Your blood vessels will have the time to contract to their resting size.
2) Re-hydrate and nourish yourself. Treat yourself to a chocolate milk, coconut water and a balanced carb and protein bar. Your body will need to stock back up on its electrolytes and protein which will allow you to have an easier recovery.
3) Stretch. Yes, you are warmed up after an event or training. But that doesn't mean that your muscle fibers are lengthened. Running and lifting mean that many of your muscles are in a state of contraction and the muscle fibers are shortened. By stretching and thengthening the fibers, you're ensuring that any lactic acid build-up with be less concentrated.
4) Get your massage! This is even better than the dreaded ice bath. Lactic acid shows up in your body to protect areas that have been exerted. An ice bath prevents lactic acid from moving in to those areas. However, a recovery massage facilitates the healing of those areas so that it is unnecessary for lactic acid to move in in the first place.
While recovery massage is one of the best ways to prevent pain and injury, it is also important to set up a maintenance program that will assist you in preventing injury and increasing performance throughout your athletic endeavors. You can speak with your therapist to set up a program that caters to your activity, time, and budget.