Massage is a wonderful way to relax, get back in touch with your body, and spend some blissful “me” time.
But what if you don’t have time to book a massage or the cost puts you off?
That’s where self-massage steps up.
What Is Self-Massage?
Self-massage is a variety of techniques used to soothe aches, pains, and muscle tightness as well as reducing your stress levels.
Most techniques can be carried out with your hands and with the aid of a tennis ball or two—all without getting into awkward yoga positions.
Self-Massage Is Traditional and Spiritual
Self-massage is not a new concept. It’s been used to heal the mind, body, and spirit for centuries.
Ancient Asian cultures used massage to promote the flow of energy they called “chi” throughout the body.
Ancient doctors believed that chi moved around the body, promoting body and spiritual well-being. If energy lines became blocked, people fell ill—so the massage was used to unblock the lines and restore health.
The oldest forms of self-massage are Anma—which originated from China at least 7,000 years ago—and Ayurvedic massage from India that may go back as far as 10,000 years.
These ancient spiritual massages have developed into various modern-day techniques such as Shiatsu, Tuina, and Swedish massage, which use comfortable finger pressure on specific body parts to ease connective tissues, soothe joint pain, and boost your spirits.
The Indian Ayurvedic massage tradition is going strong, too—Indian head massage is just one practice that we still use today.
Why You Should Try Self-Massage
It’s believed that around 50 million Americans had a massage between 2015 and 2016. That’s a lot of time and money spent on something you could achieve by yourself.
DIY massage is a great idea for those of us who don’t like being touched by a stranger.
Not everyone likes an invasion of their personal space, and self-consciousness can ruin the experience—but self-massage allows you to enjoy the benefits and sheer bliss of soothing, stress-relieving massage on your own.
Still not convinced?
Here’s why DIY massage will improve your health, your hectic schedule, and your bank balance.
- It relieves pain and tension in your muscles
- It improves blood circulation
- It stimulates your lymphatic system
- It can detox your body
- It rejuvenates your mind and soul
- It soothes your frayed nerves
- It promotes healing sleep
- It banishes stress
Self-massage can be carried out anywhere you feel comfortable, from your home to your gym—even your office desk or during your busy commute, too.
12 Self-Massage Hacks and Tips
So now that you know more about the healing benefits of self-massage, you’ll want to know—how you can do it?
Here are 12 tips to help you enjoy the ultimate in self-help.
1. Starting at the Top: Your Scalp and Head
A scalp massage is relaxing, stimulates hair growth, and reduces headaches.
Press your fingertips into your temples and draw small regular circles without stopping.
Move these circles up and over your hairline, following where it feels good. Increase in size as you approach the crown and until your fingertips meet at the top of your head. Repeat!
2. Sinus Massage
Not only does this feel great, but it can also unblock your sinus passages and relieve the symptoms of a cold.
Breathing essential oils like peppermint and eucalyptus during a sinus massage can intensify the benefits. Add a few drops to a tissue or your diffuser while you massage.
Simply press your fingertips above your nose and rub small circles up to your eyebrows. Then rub outward across your eyebrows toward your temples. To finish, make small circles across your cheekbones toward your ears.
Always move away from your nose, as this encourages detox.
Talking all day or grinding your teeth through stress really takes a toll on your jaw and leads to tension headaches.
A relaxing jaw massage can make you feel like a new person. If you’re at home, use a massage oil or your moisturizer to double the soothing and skin-smoothing benefits.
Place your fingertips beneath your cheekbones and press up gently whilst opening and closing your mouth.
Move your fingers beneath your cheekbones back toward your hairline.
Press down into your jaw joint and smooth downward in front of your ears. Then take your fingers along to your chin, smoothing or making small circles all the way.
When we think of massage, a neck rub is probably what first comes to mind.
A neck rub feels heavenly, and it relieves physical and mental stress too. If you suffer from tension headaches, you may find that a neck massage eases them away.
Press two fingers on the spot where your neck meets your back. You’ll find it’s hard and sore if you press down. This is the tense area to focus on!
Press down and hold. Then raise your arms above your head slowly and roll your shoulders. Repeat this move until the tension fades.
Because the neck is such a sore point, here’s another self-massage tip!
Take two tennis balls and lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat.
Place each tennis ball behind your neck at the base of your skull and gently shake and nod your head.
The tennis balls push into your sore muscles to soothe that stress away.
We all sit at our desks in a slumped-over fashion; it’s human nature, but it’s not healthy.
Take your right hand and gently pinch your right shoulder muscle. This is called the upper trapezius, and it responds well to pressure.
Squeeze this muscle, roll it between your fingers, and move along the muscle line to your neck.
Do the same on your left side.
Once you’ve mastered the technique, you’ll be able to massage both shoulder muscles at the same time while you read your emails—talk about multitasking!
6. Neck and Shoulders
Got lots of aches but little time? Give yourself a simultaneous neck and shoulder massage.
Stand with your back to a wall. Take a tennis ball and trap it behind your shoulder. Raise your arm and move slightly side to side. Then look over each shoulder.
This feels so good and improves your posture, too.
7. Lower Back
Lower back pain is extremely common today. Many office workers sit still for hours on end, and this leads to a backache. The pain is increased if you’re experiencing PMS.
To relieve lower back pain through self-massage, position a tennis ball between your back and the wall.
Move up and down and side to side, pressing against the ball when you discover a sore spot.
This will help relieve the symptoms of PMS and aches from sitting down all day.
We all need to take care of our knees, as they can cause problems in later life.
Massage your aching knees by sitting on a firm chair, straightening your leg, and relaxing the muscles.
Take your knuckle or fingertip and press into the muscle above your kneecap. Make a slow star shape before bending and stretching your leg.
High heels anyone? Heels can really make your calves hurt!
Soothe out pains by sitting down and pulling your toes upward. Place your fingertips above your Achilles tendon and press down.
Move up your calf, pressing down every few inches until you reach your knee.
What goes up must come down, so head back down to your foot.
Not all aches and pains appear in our connective tissues.
Stomach troubles can be caused by overeating, bugs, and stress. Massaging your stomach may sound odd, but it can aid digestion, promote detox, and help with PMS pain.
Rub a few drops of massage oil mixed with essential oils on your palms to help them glide smoothly across your skin.
Rub your stomach in clockwise circles, because this is the direction your food moves through the intestines.
Is there anything more relaxing than a foot massage?
If you can’t find someone to do it for you, a DIY foot massage is just as effective.
Take your trusty tennis ball and pop it under the arch of your foot. Slowly roll it backward and forward, from your heel to your toes.
You’ll find it difficult to stop, this feels so good! Increase the pressure if you find a tender spot and for extra pressure, try standing up.
This massage is simple to carry out in your office—and no one will notice.
A simple hand massage boosts your mental well-being, soothes muscles, and improves your skin tone.
Take a bit of oil and gently rub small circles around your wrist before moving on to the heel of your palm.
Keep those circles going and move across to the skin between your thumb and forefinger.
Gently pinch and press your thumb into the connective tissue there, making small circles.
When the palm of your hand is relaxed, rub up each finger in turn, not forgetting to rub that oil into your cuticles! Then pull your fingertips to stretch out the connective tissues.
Self-massage has so many benefits. It soothes aches and pains, reduces stress, and improves your skin tone.
If you haven’t tried it before, then start today. It doesn’t intrude on your calendar and it’s free of charge. You and your purse will be feeling better in no time.