Are you really performing self care?
We don’t just mean putting on a face mask and watching ASMR compilations – we mean physical self care. The kind that helps you rest, relax, and recover.
That’s right, we’re talking about daily massage, the self care solution to satiate the soul.
Before you go on a tangent about how expensive getting a massage is and ask how anyone in this economic hellscape could afford a massage once a month, much less once a day, listen: We’re not talking about pro-level massage. We’re talking about self massage. This method of self care is functional, fun, and most importantly, free.
Stick around to learn some easy techniques you can use on yourself to cure what ails you – self massage benefits, which areas to focus on, the best methods, and what tools you may want to try if your hands just aren’t enough.
Let’s get started!
Daily and Weekly Massage Benefits
Whether you’re constantly on the move, stiff from looking at a computer all day, or just haven’t had any time to yourself lately, chances are you’re dealing with some kind of pain here or there. That’s where self massage comes in!
What are Some Self Massage Benefits?
Ohoho, there are so many!
Not only is a weekly or daily massage naturally relaxing, but it really does have some serious perks. In fact, self massage for headaches, self neck massage, and even self foot massage all come with great health benefits.
According to the Mayo Clinic (and so many others), some benefits you can expect from using self massage techniques include but are not limited to:
- Improved immune function
- Stress reduction Increased relaxation
- Lowered heart rate and blood pressure
- Reduction of pain, tension, and muscle soreness
While not fully proven, self massage may also be helpful with:
- Upper, mid, and lower back pain Anxiety
- Digestive issues
- Temporomandibular joint pain
- Nerve pain Headaches
- Stress-induced insomnia
- Soft tissue strain
- Sports injuries
If anything, massage is just a great way to take a moment out of your day and really focus on yourself – and if you’re anything like us, those moments are sparse and oh-so-needed.
So now that we know the perks, let’s get into the how-to’s:
What Are Some Daily Massage Techniques?
While non-professional massage is generally pretty easy to do, there are some important techniques that will help you find that perfect motion and release some of that tension. Let’s start with the basics!
The 7 Types of Massage
Within the massage world, there are 7 basic types:
Swedish Massage: The most common type of massage (and the easiest type for self massage), Swedish massage is known for gentle, kneading strokes that combine with shorter, rhythmic movements.
Within Swedish massage there is Effleurage: a smooth stroke to relax muscle tension, Pretrissage: kneading and rolling, Friction: deep, circular movements for blood flow, Tapotement: percussive taps, and Vibration: rocking and shaking movements for full-body relaxation.
Deep Tissue Massage: Mostly used for particularly painful spots on the body, like muscle knots. This requires slow, firm, and intense strokes or friction. However, it should never hurt! This is also not ideal as a daily massage.
Hot Stone Massage: Massage involving hot volcanic stones placed on different parts of the body. Doable yourself, but best if you have someone to help you.
Sports Massage: Perfect for recovering from and preventing sports injuries, this type of massage focuses on injuries and certain muscle groups that athletes use. Often uses faster strokes, compression, and pressure point therapy.
Reflexology: Based around the hands and feet. This technique uses hand, thumb, and finger kneading and pressure to promote relaxation, healing, and nervous system improvement.
Shiatsu Massage: Stemming from Chinese traditional medicine as well as Japanese history, this massage technique involves rhythmic, localized pressure with fingers, hands, and elbows on different acupressure points.
- Thai Massage: Thai massage has more ‘yoga’ and ‘energizing’ movements that involve moving and stretching your body into different postures. This type is a little hard to do on your own, so the closest thing to try would be self massage yoga.
Useful Self Massage Techniques
Self Neck Massage
Those of us with remote jobs know the deal – overuse, poor posture, hunching over a laptop…the list goes on, and all of it leads to pain. Here’s a great technique to follow for the perfect self neck massage:
- Straighten your neck and back out.
- Lower your shoulders down and away from your earlobes.
- Locate the painful areas on your neck, and firmly press down with your fingers.
- Gently move your fingers in circular motions, and repeat in the opposite direction.
- Repeat for 3-5 minutes or until you feel a little more relaxed.
Self Massage for Headache
From work to kids to just living in the world, life is stressful, and often results in a headache or two. Try these steps to ease that tension:
- Lower your shoulders from your ears, and straighten your neck and back.
- Find the base of your skull, and place your index and middle fingers from both hands in the center.
- Add some soft pressure and slide your fingers downward, moving in whichever direction you prefer.
- Start moving your fingers in circular motions, and focus on the tense spots.
Self Foot Massage
Foot pain can come from working, uncomfortable shoes, or even arthritis or tendonitis. It’s one of the hardest (and most common) pains to deal with, so here’s a way you can find a bit of relief:
- If possible, hold your foot in your hands.
- Rub your heel in circular motions with your thumbs around 5 times.
- Using pressure, rub a straight line up from your heel to the ball of the foot for any arch pain.
- Use your thumb to rub the outside edges.
Self Shoulder Massage
Due to bad posture and worse stress, our shoulders are overlooked, under-appreciated, and often covered in knots. If no one around you is willing to give you a great shoulder massage, try these self massage tips:
- Place your opposite hand on top of the affected shoulder.
- Squeeze the muscle while shrugging your shoulder.
- Release the pressure and relax your shoulder.
- Apply firmer pressure, and move your fingers closer to your next in a circular motion.
- Repeat until satisfied.
Self Calf Massage
Pulled something during that office softball game, that last workout, or just by doing nothing? It happens. Here’s how to help it:
- Sit on the ground, ideally on a rug or mat.
- Bend your knee so that your foot touches the ground.
- Run your thumb upwards around your calf, or rub circles on any pain spots.
- Be sure to start at your ankle and work upwards, and use as much pressure as you can tolerate.
…And there you have it! Hope this helps you on your path to relaxation.
Is Daily Massage Harmful if Done Too Much?
The answer is that it depends on your own individual health. Generally speaking, self massage every day is a nice, healthy way to give yourself some personal time while also helping your body. However, frequent massage can be risky for those with certain health issues, such as:
- Low platelet count
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Burns or unhealed wounds
- Broken bones or sprains
- Severe osteoporosis
In short, be sure to check with your doctor if you’re suffering from any illness that may interfere before you make self massage a part of your self care routine.
What Tools Can I Use for Self Massage?
What do you do if you deal with hand pain, or just don’t have the bandwidth or time for a full body massage? We’ve got you covered!
For your head, neck, shoulders, and back: A massage gun
Massage guns are proof that man can still create good things. These little dudes are extremely helpful for getting hard to reach areas, stopping aches, and prepping your muscles before a workout.
Perfect for those who could use a quick daily massage before work.
For your calves and feet: A foot and calf massager
Imagine all the great stuff above, but you can do it at work. That’s the benefits of this incredible shiatsu massage machine that really digs into the problem areas and lets your feet and calves get some much needed rest.
Not feeling like it’s the right time for a purchase, but still need some tools?
All good - try using a tennis ball! You can roll them on your hands, feet, legs, and even lay on it for your back. Less of the benefits, but a lot of help nonetheless.
Life is hard, but life with constant pain is harder. Nip that pain in the bud with these amazing self massage techniques, and don’t forget to visit our website! Now get the self care you need!
Contributing Writer: Aurora Detor