Giving yourself a self-massage is a simple and do-able form of therapy you can practice at home. With just your hands, a few tools, and the following self-massage techniques, you’ll be on your way to relaxing and unwinding in a matter of minutes.
Self-massage techniques for stress and relaxation
Neck tension creeps up on you after a bad night of sleep or from poor posture. The neck kneading technique may help take some of the pressure off of tight muscles. If you’re finding it difficult to get comfortable or turn your head from side-to-side, it may be time to knead out any discomfort.
What you’ll need: Two hands and a yoga mat
Step 1: Lay out your yoga mat and sit in an upright position on the floor, preferably with back support from the couch or a chair
Step 2: Place your fingertips on the neck knot, forming a “C” with your hand as you cup your neck
Step 3: Gently rotate your fingertips in circles as you apply a comfortable amount of pressure
Step 4: Repeat on the other side of your neck while you attempt to pinpoint the source
Tennis Balls for Tension
You might be thinking that tennis balls are only good on the courts, but these hard, small objects help you release tension in your back and feet.
What you’ll need: Wall and tennis balls
Step 1: Align your back against the wall (for lower back) OR place a ball underneath your feet
Step 2: Slide up and down, with the ball to the left/right of your spinal column, as you roll over lower back muscle tension OR press firmly down on the ball with your foot as your roll it in a circular motion
Step 3: Repeat on the opposite side as needed
Thump it out
Think of this technique as the King Kong of self-massage. Using your fists, thump your arm, leg, and torso muscles to stimulate blood flow after a long day at work or post-workout.
What you’ll need: Your hands
Step 1: Sit at a 90-degree angle and gently thump your legs using your fists in an up-and-down motion
Step 2: Work your way up to your arms, then thump your chest pecs
Step 3: Repeat as needed on opposite side
When you feel a headache coming on, your best line of defense is to massage your temples, drink water, and take an Advil.
What you’ll need: Your hands
Step 1: Hold your fingers to your temples, almost above your eyebrows
Step 2: Gently rotate in a circular motion, pressing into the skin
Step 3: Keep working your way around to your neck for a full head massage
Restful wrists and hands
Our wrists take on a lot during the day. Between texting and typing, these repeated activities take a toll on our wrists and hands.
What you’ll need: Your hands
Step 1: Place your finger on your wrist, as if you’re taking your pulse
Step 2: Massage in circles, then work your way up to the palms and fingers, all the while applying gentle pressure and kneading out any soreness
Step 3: Repeat on the opposite hand
Lower back release
Earlier we introduced the tennis ball technique for back and feet pain. This alternative method goes deeper and intensifies the massage.
What you’ll need: Tennis balls and yoga mat
Step 1: Roll out your yoga mat, lie face up, and align two tennis balls on either side of your lower back, careful not to hit the spine
Step 2: Place your feet flat on the mat, bending your knees
Step 3: Use your legs to move up and down, applying as much pressure as needed into the tennis balls
Solo Shoulder Show
Good posture often gets away from us, but performing a shoulder self-massage could alleviate pain and encourage you to hold your shoulders upright.
What you’ll need: Your hands, massage gun, or foam roller
Step 1: Place your left hand on your left trapezius (or vice-versa if using right hand/targeting right shoulder)
Step 2: Gently squeeze a couple of times to loosen the muscle, then knead the pain with your fingertips, pressing into your skin. If using a massage gun, position it over the painful area and adjust the speed accordingly. If using a foam roller, lay on the floor and align it to the length of your spin, rolling from side-to-side against the shoulder pain.
Step 3: Repeat as needed and stretch after completion
There are loads of options on the market, but investing in a massage gun is great because it’s still DIY and operates with a high-strength motor.
Cannabis compounds have known anti-inflammatory properties, which can take your self-massage to the next level. Lotions fortified with hemp extract could not only help combat muscle tension but keep your skin feeling silky.
The long, cylindrical shape of a foam roller has multiple functionalities. Gravity is your best friend with this tool, which makes a foam roller practical for back, leg, and hip tension.
Coined the Miracle Ball Method, this soft, inflated vinyl ball conforms to your body and stretches tense muscles. The Miracle Ball is a therapy option to add to your self-massage toolkit on days when you want to feel weightless.
A yoga ball helps you deepen stretches. As a supplemental technique to self-massage, yoga balls promote flexibility so you can stay ahead of muscle cramps.
Heat Pads/Ice Packs
Most massage therapists will agree: a combination of heat and ice therapy does the trick on inflamed muscles. After your self-massage, follow up with a heating pad and ice pack to continue treating your pain.
To sum it up
If there’s one person you can count on, it’s yourself, which is what makes self-massage so wonderful. Try practicing these self-massage techniques regularly to feel a noticeable change. Through self-massage, you save yourself from costly massage appointments and develop a healthy routine that will benefit you in the long run.
How can I massage myself at home?
Neck kneading and temple rotation simply require your hands. For more advanced techniques, try a self-massage tool such as a massage gun, tennis ball, or foam roller.
Is it good to massage yourself?
The better question is: what’s there not to like with a self-massage? Rather than passively going about life and accepting your pain, self-massage is a fantastic form of home therapy that allows you to feel in control and relax without putting a strain on your wallet.
How can I give myself a body massage?
Try using tennis balls to target trigger points in your lower back or feet. Investing in a massage gun for an ultra-strength deep tissue massage has its advantages too.
Why does self-massage not feel as good?
Your pain may be hard to reach or too sore to benefit from self-massage. If this is the case, a massage therapist or a chiropractor may be better suited to your needs.