Before the session:
Go into the session hydrated. If your muscles are not hydrated, then the circulatory response from a massage is not as effective. If you are dehydrated, the body will ration the blood to the highest priority. Your body is not going to take the fluid away from organs which are necessary for survival, but your joints and muscles are secondary. One of the first signs of chronic dehydration is muscle and joint discomfort. The fluid in your joints (synovial fluid) needs to be plentiful to hydrate the joint through movement. The muscles will be more prone to damage on an everyday basis if chronically dehydrated … think of a new rubber band, and an old, discharged out one. Having enough water in your system during a massage will allow your body to flush old 'stuff' (by-products of muscle contraction, old blood) out of your muscles, and system more quickly, helping an old injury to heal faster.
If you are going to exercise the day of a deep tissue massage, do it BEFORE your session. Your muscles will be more relaxed after the session, which means it's really important not to put a heavy load on them, or the joints they support and protect. It's suggested you do no heavy lifting, pounding or twisting the rest of the day, after you have your massage. A nice stroll in the evening after a massage seems to have a great reset for the body as a whole and can do wonders for the mind as well.
Being warm just before a deep tissue massage is great. If you have the chance to work out just before a massage, that is ideal … and honestly, if you are still a little sweaty from your workout, most massage therapist would not even care. For those who have the luxury of sitting in a hot bath just before their session, that is bonus too. If you are warm, your muscles will be more relaxed, and the massage will be more effective. For anyone doing an hour or longer massage, the use of moist heat packs for added comfort can help with releasing muscles in the back in particular.
During the session:
This point can not be stressed enough. People have the tendency to have the mind set when it comes to deep tissue massage that it has to hurt to work. Actually communicating with your therapist when the point of pain becomes just more that uncomfortable would be a fairly good gauge. As in, if you feel like you need to pull away from the therapist and can not relax through it, it is probably time to tell them. Communicate with your therapist as they can only feel what they are feeling, not what you are feeling.
After the session:
You've heard it over and over again, if you've had a massage before … drink plenty of water. The reason for this is above, but it will be more effective if you are hydrated before your massage session. The more you can flush the old stuff out of your muscles and your system after the deep tissue work, the more effective the circulatory response will be, and the better you will feel the next day.
Keep your shoulder bag or backpack off your shoulder after your session. It will recruit the muscles we worked to release during the massage, and can cause more soreness! Also, keep the alcohol to a minimum or avoid it completely. Alcohol, along with caffeine, both has dehydrating effects, and will make your massage less effective. Avoid rushing right back to the real world after your session too. Why jump from a relaxed state into chaos? Slowly enter reality again by scheduling a bit of time to gradually let your senses acclimate to get the most of your session.
Some people find that their soreness after deep tissue work is significantly diminished by taking a hot bath after a massage. This advances the circulatory response, by bringing blood to the surface of the skin and cleansing the system to another degree.
Allow yourself to rest, and if you can sleep on your back, it can help with soreness the next day. This is because the muscles that were released during a massage will get squashed in most other sleeping positions and may cause discomfort the next day.
ALSO, when you receive your first deep tissue massage, it will be a much different sensation than subsequent sessions. Most clients will share that their second massage feet SO much better than the first time. Part of this is due to the fact that when the tissue is manipulated for the first time, there are many surfaces adhered to one another due to repetitive strain, or chronic postural positions. Once the tissue is moving again, particularly if you are following the 'homework' (stretches / ergonomic suggestions) and the awareness from the first session, the muscle and connective tissue is bound to be much more hydrated, nourished and healthy the second go- around. So, do not be surprised if your second massage is that much more effective in gaining mobility and much more comfortable during deep work.