How to Do Self-Massage


If you are at home, a comfortable but firm surface such as an upright chair or the floor, with plenty of space to move, is ideal. Experiment with light and firm touches and feel how your body responds to both. Your responses can change depending on your mood. Be as inventive as you like, but be sensitive to vulnerable areas, especially the neck and lower back. You can massage using soothing or uplifting oils on your skin, but part of the appeal is that these movements can easily be done through the clothes. If time is a problem, the exercises are easily adapted to an office chair or desk, or, if you are really tired, to your bed!

Shoulder kneading

To release shoulder tension, place one hand over the top of the opposite shoulder. Knead and squeeze the shoulder muscles with your fingers and the heel of your hand. Work in toward the angle of the neck, and then out toward your arm.

Self Massage

Kneading the neck

After kneading the shoulder, continue the movement more gently up the neck. Keeping your fingers to the back of your neck, squeeze gently between the heel of your hand and the balls of your fingers. Work up the neck to the skull and back several times, your fingers to the side of the spine.

Pulling across the forehead

Place your hands so that the tips of your fingers meet together right in the centre of your forehead. Then, slowly draw your hands apart until your fingers reach your hairline. Keep the stroke really soft and as you draw your fingers across, feel all the tension dissolving.

Circling the jaw To find the right place to circle, open and close your jaw, and place your fingertips where you feel the muscles working. With your jaw relaxed and open make large, slow circles over the muscles, using the tips and balls of your fingers. This movement is wonderful for releasing facial tension.

Abdomen circling

Sitting in a relaxed position, place your hands flat against the centre of your abdomen, fingers pointing downward. Draw your hands slowly upward, separating them as you circle outward. Bring them together at the bottom of the circle, and draw them upward again. This is great for relaxing the abdomen.

Kneading the side

Place your hands at the side of your abdomen and grasp a roll of flesh with one hand. Begin a kneading movement by pushing away from you with your thumb and rolling your fingers back toward you. Knead up and down the side of your body, using alternate hands. This not only tones up the muscles, but helps relax the lower back.

Pushing across the chest

Placing your fingertips on your chest, just to the side of the breastbone, push the fingers firmly out toward the arm. Work in strips, from just under the collarbone to just above the breasts. This releases tightness in the upper chest.

Heel circling the chest

Although it looks a little awkward, this is an extremely effective way of working the pectoral muscles. Bring the heels of your hands to the sides of your chest, just beneath the level of the armpits. Press your heels firmly into the muscles and circle.

Circling the chest

Use the balls of your fingers to make very small, firm circles across the top of your chest, using the same guidelines as before. It feels better if you keep the circling going outward and feels particularly good between the ribs.

Opening the foot

Sitting so that you can comfortably reach your foot, place your fingertips together under the sole, the base of your thumbs together over the top. Slowly draw each thumb toward the side of the foot, applying slight pressure as you do so. This really gives the feeling of opening up the foot.

Rotating the ankle

Making sure that the leg is being supported, place your hand firmly over the sole of your foot. Slowly rotate your ankle in both directions, making the circles as large as you can. This is great for loosening up the ankle joint and keeping it flexible, and will liven up the calf at the same time.

Pressing the knee

With your leg relaxed, use the balls of your thumbs to press right around the kneecap. You can press quite firmly, making tiny circles on the spot. This is really good for releasing any stiffness around the knee and the movements can also be felt in the calf and thigh.

Rocking the calf

Place your hands either side of your calf, where the muscles are at their widest point. Rock your hands quickly and firmly from side to side, so that the muscles move with your hands. This is an excellent movement for loosening the calf, releasing tension and invigorating the entire lower leg.

Pummelling the back

A great way to liven up your back. Lean over and with your fists, pummel up and down your back as far as you can reach. This feels good on either side of the spine. Make sure your knees are bent and keep your wrists relaxed so the movements are sharp and fast.

Lower back circle

Lie on your back on a flat, firm surface. (This one does not work on anything that is soft.) Bring your knees to your chest and slowly circle your lower back against the floor. To ease the muscles in the lower back, make large and small circles in both directions, without lifting your hips off the floor.

Self Massage

Pummelling the hips and thighs

Lying on your side, support yourself with one arm and bring your upper leg forward with the knee bent. With your other fist, pummel up and down your thigh, hip and buttock, again keeping the movements short and lively. Then change sides. This really helps stimulate circulation.

Pushing down the lower back

Rest your hands on your hips, thumbs facing the front. With your fingertips, feel for the dimples either side of the broad end of your sacrum (the bony triangle at the base of the spine) and push firmly downward along the line of the joint, without changing the position of your thumbs.

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Related posts:

  1. How to Do a Kneading Massage
  2. How to Massage the Back
  3. How to Use Circling in Massage
  4. How to Relieve Hip and Lower Back Tension with Massage
  5. How to Perform Squeezing and Opening in Massage

Filed Under: Health & Personal Care

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About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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