Massages are beneficial to so many aspects of life. They help to relax the muscles, rid the body of toxins, increase blood circulation, release feel-good hormones, de-stress, and gain better flexibility. If you’re planning on getting a massage, keep in mind one simple act to get the most out of your experience.

Before you go in for your massage appointment, you should…stretch!

Yes! Stretching before a massage is immensely beneficial to reap all the advantages a massage gives.

When hoping to receive a sports or rehabilitative massage, stretching beforehand helps to relax the muscles and improve circulation. This can lead to quicker recovery from physical stresses and restoration of tissue health.

As for a routine massage, these massages will help to improve your flexibility, so stretching beforehand only helps the massage achieve this goal and make your muscles less prone to injury.

Stretches that help lengthen muscles and improve range of motion include (but are not limited to):

  • Back stretches. Kneel on all fours (hands and knees) and lift the sternum and tailbone while lowering the abdomen, creating an inward arch.
  • Hamstring stretches. Sit flat on the floor with legs extended in a V-shape. Lean forward, with arms outstretched directly in front of you and hold that position for a few seconds at a time.
  • Hip flexors. Lie on your back and slowly bring both of your knees toward your chest. Hold one knee and let the other leg back down toward the floor slowly. Hold the knee for a few seconds and repeat on the other side.
  • Chest (pectoral) stretches. Stand in a doorway and put your hand up in the air, bending your elbow so that it’s just at shoulder height. Rest your forearm on the door frame and rotate your body away from your arm.

Over time, the accumulation of physical stress can cause muscles to become tight and sore. Compression on the joints can lead to dysfunction and pain. Even being sedentary can cause muscles to contract. Immobility slows the blood flow to the muscles, causing cramps and making stretching more difficult. So, it’s a good idea to not only stretch before a massage, but to stretch on a regular basis.