‘I’m a Massage Therapist, and To Minimize Muscle Tension, These Are 4 Things I Never Do’ 

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There are many habits we know aren't great for our body and lead to tension, soreness, aches, and, in some cases, straight-up pain. Spending hours a day hunched over a desk, not warming up properly before a workout, and wearing shoes that are bad for our feet (we're looking at you, high heels!) are a few that come to mind. That said, there are other habits that you may not be aware are taking a toll on your body. And if there's anyone who knows what not to do to keep the body relaxed and pain-free, it's a massage therapist. Ahead, Clinton Kyles, CMT, a certified massage therapist for Squeeze in Los Angeles, shares four things he never does in order to minimize muscle tension—and tips on what he recommends doing instead. 

Experts In This Article

1. Never wear flip-flops all-day

Although flip-flop sandals are the footwear of choice for some folks when the weather is warm enough, Kyles wouldn't wear them all day long because they lack proper foot support. "Over-gripping of the toes along with a lack of arch support can lead to inflammation in the plantar fascia ligament along the bottom side of your foot," he says. "Watching families walk around malls, theme parks, and tourist attractions in flip-flops is absolutely gut-wrenching to a massage therapist." 

Kyles adds that wearing flip-flops for long periods can also lead to shin splints and toe cramping, which massage therapists see an increase of during summertime. So, whether you live in a hotter environ year round (or are just headed somewhere warm on vacation), show your feet some love and opt for orthopedic sandals or a comfy pair of sneakers when you’ll be on your feet for long periods. 

2. Never do static stretches before a workout

Stretching before exercising is essential, but Kyles says you want to save the static stretches—the types you hold for a longer period of time, for your cool downs. "Elongation of muscle tissue impedes quick-fire activity," he says. Instead, he recommends dynamic stretching for warm-ups, which involves flowing through stretches and only holding them for few seconds at a time, as they are more effective way to prepare your body for these types of exercises. "Save those deep stretches for post-workout and recovery," he says. 

3. Never carry heavy things on the same side all the time

"Overuse and heavy repetition, while favoring one side, directly impacts nerves, ligaments, and tendons, which, over time, may even develop into chronic conditions," Kyles says. This is referred to as repetitive strain injury (RRI), which can stem from things like always carrying a child on the same hip, wearing a heavy bag on one shoulder every day, or holding your phone with the same hand. 

The remedy? "Do your body a favor and switch up your routine from time to time," Kyles says. "Whether you start small by brushing your teeth with the opposite hand or go for gold and buy an ergonomic desk, keeping repetitive strain to a minimum is a must."

4. Never suck in your stomach

Kyles recommends never doing this—not just for self-love and body acceptance—but also for your overall health and well-being. "Frequently clenching your abdominal wall can tighten the muscles surrounding the diaphragm and cause shallow breathing," he says. "Shallow breathing is detrimental to the cardiovascular system and can directly affect the digestive system and your metabolic rate." To ditch the habit of sucking in your stomach, Kyles recommends relaxing your stomach and taking deep belly breaths as often as possible. 

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