Q “How long should I wait to exercise after a massage or bodywork session?” A Exercising after a session can both increase muscle soreness and compromise the value of the soft-tissue work you’ve just received so it is best to avoid strenuous exercise activities such as running, weight lifting, high intensity aerobics, or power yoga classes. Light exercise such as moderate walking, gentle stretching, or swimming laps at an easy pace is okay for healthy individuals. The ideal is to allow yourself a recovery period of 24 hours. Sustained pressure on connective tissue during massages makes the tissue more gel-like. This is known as the thixotropic effect and the increased softness lasts about twenty-four hours, so high-intensity exercise may pull or move the tissue back to old patterns or even induce new strain patterns. To further reduce any bodywork-related soreness, drink at least two liters of water in the next twenty-four hours to hydrate and flush your system. Take a hot Epsom salt bath and drink gently calming teas such as chamomile or passionflower to facilitate sleep and reduce stress that is so commonly seen as a contributing factor in chronic muscle tension and soreness. If you’re dealing with an injury, these guidelines would have to be adjusted, but these basic suggestions seem to work well for most of my clients.
I do find that healthy people who exercise vigorously five to six days a week sometimes find even these modest recommendations quite challenging. If you’re one of these people, I recommend you work out before your session and then take it easy afterward.”