In Exercise by Katie Evans

I get asked often what can I do for myself in between sessions and I very much promote self care as aftercare advise. If you’re feeling tense or sore, massage therapy may help you feel better. This is the practice of pressing and rubbing your skin and underlying muscles. It has many physical and mental benefits, including pain relief and relaxation.

However, you don’t always need to see a massage therapist to reap the rewards. For some types of ailments, a self-massage can be beneficial, too.

During a self-massage, you use your hands to manipulate your own muscles. This involves kneading the skin and applying pressure in certain spots.

If you’d like to try self-massage for pain relief, it’s helpful to know about certain techniques to help you get the most out of it. Read on to learn more.

What are the benefits of self-massage? 

Self-massage is a simple, convenient way to enjoy the benefits of massage therapy. As a DIY method, it can be done in the comfort of your own home.

Like massage in general, self-massage may help ease:

  • stress
  • anxiety
  • headaches
  • digestive disorders
  • muscle strain
  • muscle tension
  • pain

When included as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, self-massage might also help manage chronic conditions like fibromyalgia or arthritis. It shouldn’t replace regular medical treatment, though.

Additionally, if you receive professional massages, self-massage may prolong the benefits and provide relief in between sessions.

There are a few self-massage tools that will help you to overcome aches and pains. I advise choosing one that is versatile enough to be used on all areas of the body. 

They tend to be either manual tools, such as a body roller that can simply be rolled over the trigger points, or electric massagers that usually have a choice of pressure settings and produce heat to provide additional comfort to sore muscles. Some trial and error might be needed to figure out which suits you best.

3 steps to a successful self back massage

You don’t need to be a contortionist to massage your own back – although admittedly that would be helpful!

Instead, I recommend purchasing a self back massager, such as a foam roller, so that you can comfortably reach without causing more pain. Then follow these simple steps to stretch out any kinks in your back and relieve pain:

  1. Lie face-up on the floor with your knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Place a foam roller under the middle of your back.
  3. Roll your body towards and away from your feet allowing the roller to rock down your back and ease any soreness. Use the strength in your legs and your body weight to control the pressure that is comfortable.

 Self neck massage techniques

With so many of us sitting in front of a laptop all day, neck pain is a common complaint caused by poor posture and hours spent hunched over a screen. We’re all familiar with the tight feeling of a knotted neck muscle, but with a self-massage for the neck you can help to evaporate tension:

  1. Relax your shoulders, allowing them to fall away from your ears.
  2. Sit upright to straighten your back and neck fully.
  3. Place your fingers on the affected area and press as firmly as is comfortable.
  4. Move your fingers in a circular motion keeping the pressure on the tense muscle.
  5. After two minutes, repeat the massage in the opposite direction.

 Feel good with a self head massage

A self head massage can help to relieve migraine pain and headaches – and even if you have no tension, a head massage always feels so good. Indeed, if life’s angst is getting to you, just stop for a moment and reset with a self head massage.

Whether you want to massage away the stress of a headache or simply want to relax, a head massage is easy to do – even without any self-massage tools.

  1. Start the head massage at your temples.
  2. Using all your fingers move them in small circular motions towards your ears and across the scalp until they meet at the back of your head. 
  3. For the ultimate in headache relief, you can also apply medium pressure to the points situated just behind the jaws and near your ears to help melt away any tension.

Dissolve tension with a self shoulder massage

Relieve the pain of tight shoulders after a long day hunched over a laptop with a self shoulder massage to relax any niggling muscle aches.

  1. Place your left hand on your right shoulder.
  2. Squeeze your shoulder and shrug up and down. 
  3. Relax as you release the pressure – and repeat for up to five minutes.
  4. Repeat the above steps on the opposite shoulder.

 Reap the benefits of a self hand massage

To enjoy the maximum benefits of a self hand massage, I  suggest treating yourself to a 15-minute massage before you go to bed.

Here’s how to give yourself a hand massage:

  1. Place one hand face down on a firm surface.
  2. Use the palm of your other hand to apply pressure and stroke from wrist to fingertips five times.
  3. Firmly pinch the tips of each finger for a few seconds.
  4. Turn your hand over and massage the palm using the thumb of your other hand in circular strokes.
  5. Finish with a moisturiser or hand cream and rub in thoroughly.

 How to give yourself a foot massage 

After a long day on your feet, there is nothing like a self foot massage to ease your cares. Simply find a comfortable place to sit and rest one foot on the opposite knee. Then follow these steps for fabulously relaxed feet:

  1. Hold your foot in both hands and ‘walk’ your thumbs slowly across the bottom of your foot from the heel to the toes.
  2. Massage the ball of each foot in circular strokes – and then repeat on your heels and arches.
  3. Finish by flexing and rotating each foot to relax the ankle.
“Neck, back pain from sport injury, tanned muscle man massage himself.”