[Please note: make sure you contact your GP or medical professional if you suffer with any medical conditions or are unsure if massage therapy is right for you. This post is based from personal experiences and knowledge.]
There’s so many reasons to love a good massage.
Not only are traditional massages super relaxing, with the therapist melting away your worries as they ease out the knots from your muscles, but deep tissue massages are also amazing for athletes.
Any type of sport or athletic training takes a toll on our bodies, and while as polers we swear by the benefits our pole and aerial adventures have on our mental state as well as our bodies, sometimes our muscles get forgotten about. Even though we try our best to fuel our bodies correctly, sometimes our muscles need a little more TLC to perform at their best.
These days, there are various kinds of massages and each type has its own benefits on the body and mind. The traditional styles of massage (Hot Stones, Indian, Swedish and even things like Bamboo Massages) are more relaxing for the mind, while Deep Tissue and Sports massages are an important part of keeping your muscles at peak condition.
It’s important to note when thinking about booking a massage session to know what your body can tolerate and what it needs.
Sports and Deep Tissue massages need a far greater level of pressure to work out the tight spots and get the blood flowing to promote healing, so these may not be right for you if your body can’t handle high levels of pressure.
If you need a lighter touch but still want the benefit of massages, the more traditional styles can often convey similar benefits, but from past experience that wholly depends on the therapist and their level of training in massage techniques.
My absolute favourite kind of massage is a good old fashioned Sports Massage.
My absolute favourite kind of massage is a good old fashioned Sports Massage.
In my experience, they tend to work out cheaper than a massage at the spa at roughly £30 for an hour of massage, and have the added benefit of being targeted towards your problem areas.
When I can, I book in with Kim from K Pole in Birmingham when she comes to Twisted Pole. For £28 for a 45 minute session, she works absolute magic on my muscles, and I can’t recommend her highly enough!
The first time I booked in with Kim, shoulders had been feeling tight for a while, and even though I try to keep on top of stretching them, nothing seemed to be helping. I tend to work at a desk all day, and as much as I say I’m going to be more active, I mostly end up sat at my desk playing video games in the evening (curse you, Steam sales, for making all the video games I want cheap!).
Since noticing this I’ve tried to get in the habit of rolling my shoulders back and down, but the tightness was already there.
However, every few months or so, Kim from K Pole in Birmingham comes to Twisted Pole to work her sports massage magic on our tired and tight muscles. As a pole dance instructor and sports masseuse, she knows exactly which muscle groups to target based on what you’re currently working on and what your goals are. During the massage she targeted not only my upper back, shoulders and neck, but also around my hips, as it’s apparently a common problem among pole dancers to have tight hips.
Hoo boy, she was right.
As sports massage is a form of deep tissue massage, the therapist has to work deep into your muscles and their connection points to manually loosen up any knots and tension.
It perhaps goes without saying sports massages utilise lots of pressure to get the blood flowing and aren’t suitable for people with chronic pain conditions.
While sports massage utilises more pressure than a regular massage, sometimes tight muscles can make it feel like your therapist is putting a lot of pressure in, while it’s actually quite light.
While this should never be anything worse than uncomfortable, it is a discomfort you will have to bear with in order to help loosen those muscles up – which they will do, with time.
At no point should your sports massage be painful. If the pressure is too much for you, tell your therapist – their goal is to ease up the tension, not break you!
As Kim was working on my muscles she explained to me what she was working on and the problem areas she identified, and said that indeed sitting at a desk all day wasn’t helping my shoulders any.
Also, if a sports masseuse asks if you train both sides of your body, don’t lie – they can tell!
As you can expect, Kim explained, people who predominantly train one side are not only tighter on one side, but the muscles are larger.
As with a relaxation massage, Kim used a massage oil on my skin to help her work the muscles underneath, although this wasn’t heavily scented nor did it feel heavy on my skin, like some products used at the spa. It did leave my skin feeling super moisturised though!
My 45 minute slot seemed to fly by, despite the expected discomfort, as I chatted with Kim the entire time about our respective pole journeys, what we were working on, and stretches I could do to help my muscles in the future.
She advised me to avoid any exercise for the rest of the day and rest, as I’d probably “feel like you’ve been hit by a bus” by bedtime.
Oh, how right she was.
I got home and jumped into a nice, warm Epsom salts and bubble bath with a large cup of tea. Nick (my ever faithful pole widower) had lit some candles around the house too, so it would be ultimate relaxation time. I made sure to soak the areas that had been worked on in the water so they could gain the benefit of the magnesium in the Epsom salts, as I felt pretty bruised at this point.
After about an hour’s soak, I went about my normal Sunday business. By the time I got to bed, I was so achy, it felt like I’d literally done three hours of weightlifting.
It’s worth noting that, during a sports massage, your muscles sustain the same micro-tears that exercise causes, leaving you with that lovely DOMS feeling that you get after trying a new exercise or stepping up your workout for the first time.
So if you’ve had a sports massage and you ache for a day or two, it’s totally normal!
The next day I was achy, but nothing really more than the day-after-workout ache I get sometimes. I made sure to keep my muscles moving to get the blood flowing through them, so I went to my regular drop-in pole class that night, which helped loosen me up again.
In the class I noticed that I had a lot more mobility in my shoulders and hips than usual, and honestly, I felt like I’d been given my body back.
The aches subsided on the second night, when I started to fully feel the benefits. My body felt a lot lighter and more mobile than usual, and no longer was I rotating my shoulders every two seconds to try and abate the tightness between them.
Anyway, Kim at K Pole in Birmingham is a magical lady, and I would recommend her to ANYONE who needs a good sports massage to sort themselves out.
After your Massage
Whatever kind of massage you have, make sure you drink plenty of water afterwards to keep hydrated.
Whether you had something high pressure or not, your muscles will need water to help repair themselves afterwards. This is particularly important if you’ve had a sports massage as it is the equivalent of putting your body through an intensive workout (at least it feels that way!) so you will need to keep your body hydrated to give your muscles what they need to repair.
Don’t exercise after having a massage, as you risk undoing all of the good work your therapist has done to your body.
It’s a pretty great way of starting off a full relaxing self care session! I recommend spending the rest of the day after a massage – or at the very least, the hour afterwards – doing very little that has a heavy impact on your muscles in order to kick start the repair process.
I recommend after your massage taking a nice, long bath with some Epsom salts, a Lush bath bomb or bubble bar, or some fancy bubble bath to continue soaking your muscles.
I’ve found this is key for me in reducing how long I’m achy for afterwards. Pair this with a nice face mask, hair mask, exfoliating session, moisturising session – anything you fancy to turn it into a full pamper session! This time is awesome to help connect you with your body, pamper your muscles and show them some gratitude for all the hard work they do for you.
I try to get a sports massage booked in every couple of months to keep my muscles in top condition, particularly if I’m consistently exercising.
It’s not unheard of for elite athletes to have a couple of sports massages a week, but they also tend to have more money than I do!
As with anything to do with your body, it’s best to find what works for you. Sports massages may not be right for everyone, so it’s best to talk to your doctor if you have any concerns before you jump into the world of massage therapy.
Hey, was this post useful? If it was, please consider buying me a coffee. I can’t promise that I won’t give the money to Kim to get her to fix me.