There are a number of things to consider, here are my guidelines:
Is your activity strenuous, or something that is more gentle and restorative in nature? Think of the difference between trying to run a 10k PR and going out for a leisurely jog or even a brisk walk.
Timing is also an important consideration. Do you want to exercise immediately after your massage or will you have a few hours before your activity?
Quite often the goal of massage is to reduce the resting tone of muscle and this can be accompanied by a temporary lengthening of the muscle. This is great, it can leave muscles feeling relaxed, with more range of motion and improved quality of movement. However, you may not actually want this directly before strenuous exercise, a sports competition or a dance performance for example. Here’s why:
You are used to lifting, running, jumping, dancing with a certain range of motion available to you. If this is altered because we have improved resting tonicity, your sense of where you are in space (proprioception) may be altered and may change your usual body mechanics. Imagine how frustrating that would be for a volleyball or tennis player whose serve mechanics are slightly changed!
Massage can also have a calming effect on your nervous system. This may affect your ability to engage the muscles involved in your activity, and generate the force and power needed.
Pre event sports massage is specifically designed to prepare the body for strenuous activity. These sessions are typically shorter (15-20mins), lighter, and stimulatory rather than relaxing in nature. Pre event massage is usually done on site at sporting events and forms part of the athlete’s warm up routine.
As always it comes down to individual tolerance and listening to your own body. I would encourage a restorative type of activity after massage, and would suggest several hours of rest between massage and a more strenuous activity.
If you plan on doing something more demanding immediately after your massage, tell me before the session starts so that we can discuss modifying the session appropriately.
Let’s find what works for you!