Self Massage Techniques You Can
Use to Relax Tight Muscles
Self massage is a great way to relax and invigorate yourself. The techniques in this article will get you started.
Head and Face - Neck
Arms and Shoulders
Low Back and Buttocks - Feet
Breast Self Massage
Important: If anything is painful, don't do it. Be careful if you have recently been injured or seriously ill. If in doubt, consult a massage therapist or other healthcare professional.
Head and Face
Massage your head and face to reduce tension or anxiety.
- Place one index finger on top of the other at the center of your hairline. Press and release that point and then move down the center of your forehead, pressing and releasing.
- Move about one inch horizontally to the right of the centerline, and press and release from the hairline downward. Repeat this press and release one inch to the left of the centerline.
- Place your thumbs or index fingers at the center of your forehead, and then move them in a line from the center to your temples. Repeat this massage technique across your eyebrows, the center horizontal line of the forehead, and your hairline.
- Use your index fingers to make small circles on each temple.
- Place all your fingers on your scalp, with your hands in a claw-like position. Make small circles, slowly covering the whole scalp, spending extra time on tight spots.
- Use alternate index fingers to stroke the bridge of the nose from top to tip.
- Use your thumbs or index fingers to gently stroke from the inner corner of each eye across the top of the cheekbones to your ears. Repeat the stroking motion until you reach the bottom of your cheekbones.
- On the well-developed muscles of your jaw, use your fingers to make circles, spending extra time on sore or tight spots.
Self Massage for Your Neck
- With one hand, grasp the base of your neck and squeeze it. Continue squeezing and releasing the neck muscles as you move up your neck to your hairline. Repeat as many times as desired.
- Exhale and let your head drop, stretching the back of your neck slowly with the help of one hand on the back of your head. Inhale and lift your head. Then exhale as you again help yourself stretch your neck to the right and then the left. (Note: Stretch ONLY to a comfortable stretch. If you have pain with this stretch, stop and get professional advice.)
- Place the pads of your thumbs just above your ears (palms flat on the sides of your head). Use your thumbs to press into that point; release. Move along your hairline, pressing and releasing, until your thumbs meet in the center back of your head.
- Move your thumbs up a little to the ridge in the back of your head. Make little circles with your thumbs, using slow, comfortable pressure, and moving back to the starting hand position, as you follow the ridge and hairline.
- Repeat the hairline massage with the thumbs two more times.
Self Massage for Arms and Shoulders
These techniques are great before or after doing repetitive work such as working on a computer or gardening.
To release neck and shoulder muscles:
Use your left hand to squeeze and release the right side of your neck at its base. Move your hand down your right shoulder and arm, squeezing and releasing as you go. Repeat several times on the right side and then several times using the right hand on the left side.
To massage your arms:
- Warm up one arm by squeezing the muscles, moving up and down the arm. Next, briskly rub up and down the arm, from shoulder to wrist.
- Place the warmed forearm on a counter or a high table, using a folded towel (optional) for padding. Place the elbow of the other arm on top of the forearm on the table, just below the elbow.
- Press firmly but gently into the forearm and then release. Press and release points down a line on the forearm until you reach the wrist. Turn your forearm until you have massaged it completely, repeating the press and release three times down each line.
- Go back to tender spots, and use your thumb to press each one for a few seconds.
- Repeat these steps on the other arm.
If you are interested in acupressure, see Acupressure's Potent Points: A Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments. You can perform acupressure on yourself by following the well-illustrated instructions in this book.
Low Back and Buttocks Massage
- Lie on the floor on your side with your knees bent. Place your hand as far up your spine as you can and use your thumb to massage the muscles along the sides of the spine, moving slowly down your spine to your tailbone.
- Using your thumbs, knuckles, or fist, apply pressure to the buttock muscles, starting at your lower back and moving to the thigh, pressing into each point for several seconds.
- Place a tennis ball or a soft "practice" golf ball under one buttock (you can sit or lie down). If the ball is too hard, cover it with a towel or do this technique on a bed or other soft surface. Roll your lower back and buttocks over the ball, pressing your body weight comfortably into the ball. Spend extra time on spots that feel tight. (Important: If you feel a sudden, sharp pain, you may have rolled over the sciatic nerve. Avoid that spot.)
For an Eastern approach to massage, take a look at Chi Massage: The Taoist Way of Rejuvenation by Mantak Chia.
To so the following foot self massage techniques, sit in a chair and place one foot over the other knee, or sit cross-legged on the floor with one foot in a forward position.
- Take your foot in one hand and create motion in the ankle joint by moving the foot forward and back and side-to-side.
- With one hand, hold your foot. Use the thumb of the other hand to press and slide down the sole from the base of the toes to the heel. Repeat until you've covered the entire sole.
- Use your thumb or knuckles to press and massage more deeply into tender points. Hold particularly tight or achy spots for several seconds.
- Use your fingers to squeeze each toe.
- Use your whole hand to squeeze and release the entire foot from the heel to the toes. Repeat several times.
- Repeat this sequence on your other foot.
Another option is to massage your feet with a tennis, golf, or other small ball. Roll each foot over a ball for a minute or two, applying extra pressure on tight spots.
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