Self-massage is undoubtedly an easy way to reduce stress and relieve tension and tightness, and all you need are your own two hands. In this post, you’re going to learn several self soothe techniques. This guide also includes specific actions to take to relieve everyday aches and pains.
When something in your body hurts, your first instinct is often to caress it. Pounding headache? Massage your temples. Sore back, tight neck, stiff shoulders?
Give them a good rub.
All types of massage in almost any form carry with them a variety of healing properties, from increasing lymphatic flow throughout the body to improving circulation to boosting levels of feel-good hormones like endorphins. It is also a simple solution to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and lower symptoms of pain. But you do not have to make an appointment with a therapist to gain from it. Even some simple self-massage techniques can actually help you feel better quickly.
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Self Soothe Techniques
[bctt tweet=”Use just a few drops of essential oil such as lavender in the area you are massaging to increase relaxation” username=”dianescorpion”]
“Self-massage is a natural human activity,” notes Kristine Kaoverii Weber, author of Complete Self-Massage Workbook: Over 100 Simple Techniques for Re-Energising Body and Mind and the founder of Subtle Yoga in Asheville, North Carolina. “It is an easy way to help you feel more relaxed without having to go anywhere or spend any money.”
Self Soothing Activities
While simply rubbing a tight spot can help you feel better, employing a few basic massage techniques can create an even more significant change. In addition to tight muscles, you can also target specific acupressure points that can go a long way toward relieving stress and anxiety.
Follow these massage techniques to reduce tension and find relief in some common trouble spots. You will only need to do these for about one minute each, but go longer if it feels good!
How to Relieve a Sore Neck and Tight Shoulders
Driving in a car, sitting at a desk, slumping on the couch or in a chair, hunching over a phone; it is no wonder so many of us experience pain and tension in the shoulders and neck. This simple, short sequence uses a combination of massage and trigger point techniques to relax tight muscles.
- Step One: Make a fist with your right hand. Tilt your head gently to the right and hit your fist (with as much power as you like) into your trapezius muscle. This is the hard muscle that runs along the top of your shoulder into your neck. You can support your right elbow with your left hand if required. Continue for about a minute, then repeat on the other side.
Finally, squeeze the same area on top of your upper back and shoulder with your right hand. Begin to slide your hand from the shoulder up to the neck and gently squeeze the neck muscles for about one minute. Repeat on the other side.
- Step Two: Use all your fingertips, working on each side of the spine to massage the neck muscles. Use small, circular movements, sliding from the base of the skull down to the shoulders. Massage for one to two minutes.
[bctt tweet=”8 to 12 seconds; the amount of time to press into a trigger point in a tight muscle to help find relief” username=”dianescorpion”]
Reduce Overall Tension and Anxiety
The hands actually have several acupoints that are useful for helping to calm the mind. The Pericardium meridian is particularly important in treating stress and anxiety and runs straight down the middle of the inside of the arm,
- Step One: Slowly use the opposite hand to massage both of your wrists and all of the fingers. Take note of any sore areas and give them some extra time. Then place your thumb in the centre of of the palm and massage in circles for about one minute. Repeat on the other hand.
- Step Two: Place your thumb in between the tendons on the inside of the wrist. Slide up about two-and-a-half finger widths. Massage in a circle for one minute. Repeat on the other wrist.
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Alleviate a Headache
Anxiety and stress can often produce a dreadful tension headache that has you grabbing the nearest pain-relieving medication. Why not try this Indian head massage, which has been used for centuries to relieve stress and tension? It takes only a few minutes; in addition to reducing stress, it can also help ease fatigue and tired eyes.
- Step One: Sit in a chair or lie down. Use your fingertips to gently rub your temples in small, slow circles. Continue for about one minute.
- Step Two: Next, pretend to “shampoo” your scalp. Start just behind the temples and make small circles, rubbing toward the back of your head. Massage the whole scalp. Continue for at least one minute.
- Step Three: Finish by “combing” your scalp with your fingertips; start near the hairline and move over the sides and top of the head and down the back of your neck to the shoulders. Repeat this movement several times.
Soothe Sore, Tired Feet
Most of us tend to abuse or neglect our feet; standing for hours, shoving them into tight shoes, tottering around on high heels. The feet contain many nerve endings, so foot massage can even help rejuvenate the entire body. If you are flexible enough, sit firmly on the floor with your back supported and legs crossed; you can also perform this massage while sitting in a chair.
- Step One: Start by placing your left foot on top of your right thigh. Wrap your fingers around the top of your foot, then press and hold for a few seconds. Repeat, moving upwards in a straight line from the centre of the heel. Next, use the same technique, starting from the inside of the heel along the arch. Finally, from the outside of the heel up to your final two toes.
Repeat the sequence.
- Step Two: Next, make a fist with your right hand. Roll your knuckles up the sole, working from the heel to the toes. Repeat this action three or four times. Then take each toe between your fingers and thumb.
Squeeze and roll each toe for 15 seconds.
- Step Three: If you are flexible enough, take the elbow of your right arm and press it into the sole of your foot. Make small circles with your elbow. After several seconds, move to a different point. Concentrate on the sore, achy areas.
Repeat the sequence.
Tools vs Hands: Which is Better?
Got a spot you just cannot reach? Try using these simple tools to find relief.
Try: A frozen water bottle. An ic cold water bottle is great to use underneath the arch of the foot. It is beneficial if you have plantar fasciitis, a common (and painful) foot injury.
- Fill the water bottle, so it is partially full and freeze overnight.
- Sit comfortably in a chair with the bottle placed horizontally on the floor beneath one foot.
- Slowly begin to roll the entire arch of your foot over the bottle, pressing gently into the surface.
- Continue for two to three minutes; switch feet.
Try: A tennis ball. Get to that hard-to-reach trouble spot by leaning your body into a tennis ball. This is just the correct density to activate any tricky trigger points.
- First, lean against a wall, placing the ball between your shoulders.
- Continue to lean into the wall as you roll the ball around slowly.
- When you find an incredibly tender spot, hold for up to 30 seconds or until the muscle releases.
Try: A foam roller. Sitting all day can make your glutes tight and weak. A foam roller is a relatively inexpensive tool that can be used to relieve tightness throughout the lower body, says Greenman.
- Sit on the roller, with right ankle crossed over left knee, so most of the pressure is on your left glute.
- Tilt forward and roll back and forth, slowing down when you hit a tight spot.
- Switch sides after about 30 seconds.
I hope you enjoyed my article on self soothe techniques, and as always, please consult your doctor before making any lifestyle changes. If you have any comments or questions or suggestions, please leave them below, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.