Effective Stretches to Combine with Massage Therapy

Effective Stretches to Combine with Massage Therapy


Massage therapy can relax tense muscles, reduce inflammation, and boost your posture! Plus, stretching can help too. It releases restrictions in the muscle tissue, allowing for improved flexibility and motion. It also increases blood circulation and balances toxins from the muscles.

Before you combine massage and stretches, talk to your therapist about: your fitness, any physical limitations, type of stretches, and equipment (like foam rollers or chairs). Don’t forget to warm up first and focus on your breathing when stretching. Exhale as you stretch, and inhale as you come back out.

By combining massage and stretching, you can get reduced soreness and better joint stability. With enough practice, it can even help with chronic pain conditions. To get started, here are some effective stretches to try with massage therapy:

Benefits of Stretching

Stretching has many perks for massage therapy receivers. It can help relax tense muscles, boost movement, and increase the range of motion. Plus, stretching gets the body ready for massage therapy, so the work is more targeted.

Let’s talk about the most successful stretches to use with massage therapy, and look at the special advantages of each one:

Improved Flexibility

Stretching offers many benefits! It can help loosen up stiffness and improve flexibility. This helps the body to prepare for physical activity, by lubricating joints and allowing for smoother movements. As a result, there is less risk of injury during exercise, allowing for better performance with more ease.

Better flexibility also aids posture and balance. It ensures proper alignment of the skeletal system, leading to better posture and less strain from sitting and lying positions.

Improved Posture

Stretching helps your body find its ideal posture by lengthening and strengthening the muscles in your back and shoulders. It encourages you to recognize how your body should feel when it is in alignment. Keeping a focus on good posture can help protect your joints from harm.

Stretching also eases muscle tension that builds up from physical activity, poor postural Positioning, or stress. Taking the time to stretch can ease pressure before it becomes an issue. Stretching should be done with care, which is why massage therapy is great for stretching tight muscles safely.

Reduced Stress

Stretching is a key part of any fitness plan. Combined with massage therapy, it has a great effect on lowering stress. Doing stretches regularly helps to relax and ease muscle tension. They also improve posture, range of motion, and body awareness, while strengthening the musculoskeletal system.

Focus on rhythmic breathing when doing stretches, as this releases endorphins into your body, reducing stress and aiding recovery from exercise 48 hours after physical activity. Stress management is crucial for overall health. Stretching before or after physical activity, or daily life activities, will help reduce chronic stress by freeing up tension in joints, neck, shoulders, and other muscles.

Stretches should be done slowly with control to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which helps with rest and relaxation. Allocating a few minutes of stretching will result in improved flexibility and reduced stress, providing a break for the mind and body!

Improved Circulation

Stretching has many advantages. It can help with circulation, especially in the legs. When joints become too tight, it can stop blood from flowing freely. Stretching can reduce tightness and increase mobility. This results in less muscle tension and stress, and more oxygen flow. This helps with healing and recovering from injuries or soreness.

Plus, stretching before any physical activity helps you be aware of your body’s limits. This reduces the risk of injury due to wrong form or weak muscles.

Types of Stretches

Stretching is a great addition to massage therapy – no matter if you’re an athlete or not! Types of stretches can help you with your range of motion, flexibility and circulation. Let’s look at the various kinds of stretching and how they can be used with massage therapy for the ultimate benefits.

  • Static stretching is a type of stretching that is done without any movement and is held for a period of time.
  • Dynamic stretching is a type of stretching that involves movement and is done in a controlled manner.
  • Ballistic stretching is a type of stretching that involves bouncing and is not recommended for regular use.
  • PNF stretching is a type of stretching that involves the use of isometric contractions and is usually done in combination with other types of stretching.

Static Stretches

Static stretching is holding a stretch for a period of time. It’s also called ‘active’ or ‘passive’ stretching. Active stretching is using your bodyweight and gravity to deepen the stretch. Passive stretching needs an outside force. Common stretches include hamstring, butterfly, shoulder, and spinal twits.

Don’t push too far. Listen to your body—it’s important not to get injured. Massage therapy can combine stretches with deep-tissue massage. This increases mobility in the area being treated.

Dynamic Stretches

Dynamic stretching is an active form of stretching. It requires movement like arm circles, leg swings, jumping jacks, etc. It’s often used in warm-ups like yoga or running. It helps get your body ready for physical activity.

Examples of dynamic stretching:

  • Arm circles
  • Arm crossovers
  • Standing side bends
  • Backward leg swings
  • Front lunges
  • Side lunges
  • Squat slides
  • Rotational squats
  • Inchworms

Dynamic stretching can also be used before massage therapy. It can help reduce muscular adhesions. It can loosen tight fibers that are causing pain and tension. It can also make the massage session more effective. So, it’s important to do a few dynamic stretches before massage.

Ballistic Stretches

Ballistic stretches use the body’s movement or limb to try and stretch it beyond its normal range. Though this can help with flexibility, it’s hard to control and can cause too much tension. This type of stretching has a high chance to get injured, so it must only be done with a qualified health professional.

Active Isolated Stretches
Active isolated stretching (AIS) is a good way to lengthen muscles and improve flexibility. It involves small movements at the end of each stretch, repeated over a small range. This controlled movement helps flexibility without pushing the muscles and joints too far. AIS is great for rehabilitation because it doesn’t add too much stress to the muscles, so they can recover quickly.

Static Stretches
Static stretches involve slowly extending a muscle group until it reaches its full length, then holding it until it feels tired or mildly uncomfortable before slowly releasing it. This enables your muscles and connective tissues to warm up and relax, and it prevents potential tearing caused by ballistic or active isolated stretches.

Stretching Techniques

Stretching is a great way to ease muscle tension and increase flexibility. When performing massage therapy, it’s important to add stretching to your sessions. It can help reduce tension in the muscles and enhance range of motion.

Let’s look at some useful stretching techniques to incorporate into massage therapy:

Neck Stretches

The neck is the most bendable part of your body. To feel massage therapy’s most benefits, it needs to be oiled and loose. There are many stretching activities that can help with this, especially when used with massage. Neck stretching is simple and can be done as part of a plan for reducing stress.

Examples of basic neck stretches:

  • Turn your head side to side, looking over each shoulder. Rest your head at the top of the turn for 20 seconds before going further.
  • Tilt your head back and look at the ceiling. Then slowly lower it towards one shoulder.
  • Put mild pressure on each shoulder while bending your neck towards them. No more than a few seconds each time.
  • Roll your head clockwise and anti-clockwise in circles on your shoulders. Make the circles bigger with each revolution.

Remember to move slowly and in a range that feels comfortable. Don’t try to stretch too deep if it’s painful or uncomfortable. Increase stretching gradually instead of trying for too much too fast.

Shoulder Stretches

Stretching the shoulders is essential. It reduces motion and posture restrictions, which can cause discomfort and even injury. Massage therapy in combination with stretching helps improve circulation and promote relaxation. Here are a few shoulder stretches:

  • Upper Trapezius Stretch: Tilt head towards right shoulder. Hold for 30-45 seconds. Then repeat on left side.
  • Rotator Cuff Stretch: Stand upright. Extend one arm parallel to the floor. Bend elbow, palm up. Gently pull towards body using opposite hand. Hold for 30-45 seconds each side. Repeat 3 times on each arm.
  • Rhomboid Stretch: Cross arms in front of chest at 90 degree angle. Palms pressed together. Gently tilt forward, keeping arms crossed. Hold for 30-45 seconds. Feel gentle stretch on each side of upper back. No pain or discomfort.

Arm Stretches

Arm stretching is a great way to increase flexibility and range of motion. It should be done for 30 seconds per day, 1-2 times. Here are some helpful examples of arm stretches:

  • Upper arm stretch: Reach your right arm up, close to your ear. Feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 5 deep breaths and lower your arm. Now switch to the left side.
  • Shoulder roll: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your right elbow below shoulder height. Roll it around in small circles 10 times. Then switch sides.
  • Forearm pull: Extend arms out in front at shoulder level. Palms facing down, pull hands towards body. Feel a gentle stretch in the forearms. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Relax arms by releasing hands away from body. Repeat on the other side.

Back Stretches

Back stretching can help ease tight muscles, ease pain, and boost mobility. If you’re getting massage therapy as part of a long-term program for chronic back pain, or just want to keep your muscles supple, stretching is key. Here are some stretches that can help your back:

  • Cat-Cow Stretch: This gentle stretch helps with posture alignment and flexibility. Start on all fours. Keep your spine in a neutral position and breathe in and out. Move between cat and cow poses while engaging the core.
  • Child’s Pose: Child’s pose relaxes tightness in the back. Kneel down and lower your chest toward the floor. Stretch out your arms overhead or beside you. Push your hips backward while keeping your spine straight. Hold it for 10 seconds before rising. Do it again if needed.
  • Seated Spinal Rotations: Sit on the floor with legs extended. Cross one leg over the other so feet touch opposite knees. Put your hands behind your body for support. Keep your shoulders and core straight. Exhale and rotate your upper body over outside of crossed legs. Arms should be by your hips. Neck must stay relaxed. Inhale and rotate back to center. Repeat 5 times on each side. This helps relieve tension from stiffness in the lower lumbar region. It also helps with postures from commuting and workdays.

Hip Stretches

Stretching the hip is important for massage recipients, especially athletes and those with physical jobs or who practice sports. Sitting, running, biking or lifting heavy items can strain the hip. Stretching regularly can provide relief to tight, overused muscles.

Four common stretching techniques are: static, dynamic, PNF and reversibility training exercises. Static involves holding the stretch for a set time, e.g. 15 seconds. Dynamic stretches progress through a range of motion e.g. side lunges. With PNF, you contract and then relax certain muscles. Reversibility training exercises target weak or injured areas, e.g. eccentric hip abductor exercises and balance board exercises.

Leg Stretches

Flexible legs, hips, ankles and feet are vital for exercise. Excessive tension could lead to injuries and lessen your mobility. Before a workout or sports activity, stretching can loosen your muscles and reduce the risk of injury. Massage therapy can also reduce tension in leg muscles and other soft tissue, making your body more flexible. Here are a few simple stretches you can try:

  • Standing straddle stretch: Stand with feet wide apart. Lower until you feel a comfortable stretch in inner thighs. Hold for five to ten breaths. Release.
  • Butterfly stretch: Sit and move feet close to body. Press down with elbows on inner thighs. Hold for five to ten breaths. Release slowly.
  • Standing calf stretch: Stand two feet away from wall. Slightly bend one knee and press forward into wall. Feel stretch in calf muscles. Hold for around 10 seconds. Switch legs and repeat three to four times.
  • Seated side bend: Sit with legs extended forward. Clasp hands behind head. Tilt head towards shoulder on one side. Use opposite hand to press against leg below knee joint. Hold for five to ten breaths. Release slowly. Switch legs. Repeat three times each side.


Familiar with massage therapy and stretches? Speak with a physical therapist or massage therapist for help. Understand the best type of massage and stretches for you. Most people benefit from massage and stretching exercises for muscle injuries and relaxation. The combination improves muscle flexibility and reduces strain on your muscles. Each individual has unique needs for the combination that works best. Your doctor or provider can help you determine which combination offers the most benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the benefits of combining massage therapy and stretches?

A: Combining massage therapy and stretches can help increase flexibility and range of motion, reduce muscle tension and soreness, improve circulation, and enhance overall relaxation and well-being.

Q: What are some effective stretches to combine with massage therapy?

A: Some effective stretches to combine with massage therapy include hip flexor stretches, hamstring stretches, quad stretches, calf stretches, shoulder stretches, and neck stretches.

Q: How long should I hold each stretch?

A: It is recommended to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds, and up to 60 seconds for a deeper stretch.

Q: Can anyone perform these stretches?

A: It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new stretching or exercise routine. These stretches can be modified to accommodate different body types and levels of flexibility.

Q: When is the best time to perform these stretches?

A: These stretches can be performed before or after a massage therapy session, as well as throughout the day to help increase flexibility and reduce muscle tension.

Q: Is it necessary to warm up before performing these stretches?

A: Yes, it is recommended to warm up before performing any stretches to help prevent injury. This can be done through light cardio, such as jogging or jumping jacks, or through mobility exercises targeting the muscle groups to be stretched.

the back recovery program by alex larsson
Jane Smith is a natural health enthusiast on a mission to uncover effective methods for achieving pain-free living. Through her personal journey with chronic back pain, she has become well-versed in holistic approaches such as yoga, Pilates, and essential oils.

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