A typical massage therapy treatment takes about an hour. The majority of people that I treat have a goal for that hour. They want to treat a recent injury, address a chronic problem, release shoulder tension or reoccurring headaches. The intention behind making that massage appointment is to get rid of something that is hurting, or, perhaps to add something that is missing, like relaxation.
For that hour, I will assess their problem and proceed with several techniques to hopefully meet their goal for that session. I will also talk about exercises or lifestyle changes that they can do when they are at home, at work or when exercising. These are called “Homecare Exercises”, although they don’t necessarily take place at home, and they don’t have to be a typical exercise!
What are Homecare Exercises? These are personalized and specific activities that are given to address your problems and goals. These are to be done on your own outside of the massage therapy session. Stretches are probably the most common exercises given post-treatment, along with hot or cold hydrotherapy. As the title suggests, these can be done at home as part of your recovery program. These suggestions aren’t just limited to the home. Other common suggestions from your therapist may involve workplace ergonomics, proper breathing and relaxation techniques, adequate hydration amounts or strengthening exercises.
WHY are home care exercises important? You are responsible for your body 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for about 80 or 90 years. Even if you regularly seek out massage therapy once every 2 weeks, that leaves approximately 28 days out of a month (670 hours) that you are NOT in treatment! What you do during THAT time is just as important as what your therapist does to you on the table. For example, your therapist may suggest using a pillow under your legs to relieve back discomfort while sleeping. This is a minor change in your life, but may have a major impact on your achy back. Other suggestions may be more involved, such as incorporating a strengthening routine into your day to help alleviate chronic knee problems, or setting up “breathing” timers at work to remind you of your posture and to take movement breaks. These home care exercises are important because they can expedite your healing process and empower you to take care of your own body.
So the next time your therapist gives you some exercises, make sure you understand the intent and the execution of the activity. We will do our best to meet your healthcare goals while you are on our table, just like you need to do your best to meet your healthcare goals when you are not on our table.
Your body is worth the effort, after all, you are responsible for the health of your body for about 744,600 hours over your lifetime. Maybe stretching for an extra 10 minutes a day isn’t so bad.
While there may be information related to certain medical conditions and their treatment on this website, please consult your doctor or other healthcare professional to determine if a treatment described in the website is appropriate for you.
Kirsten Hammond is a Registered Massage Therapist and owner of Evolutions Massage Therapy Clinic- Saanich, BC & Sidney, BC & Brentwood Bay, BC