If you’re in pain and you can’t get to a masseur, there are ways for you to relax your muscles and relieve the pain yourself. This won’t solve any on-going problems, but it can give you some temporary relief.
Working out how to massage your own upper back, neck, legs or any part of your body, is not as hard as it sounds. There are a number of aids and techniques you can use at home to help ease the pain until you can see a practitioner.
How self massage can help
When you feel pain, a massage can help relieve this by relaxing the muscles, releasing knots and getting the blood circulating. While trained practitioners know the best techniques and the right pressure to apply, self massage can still be of use.
Simply rubbing the muscles will encourage the blood to flow and this in turn helps relax the muscles and reduce pain.
You do need to be careful how you apply any massage to yourself, and if you experience regular problems it would be a good idea to visit a practitioner to receive a professional massage, but there are also very good methods and tools that you can use to relieve tension and pain if you need to.
A few tips
Sitting down and just rubbing your muscles is not the best way to help yourself. If you prepare properly, you will get a much better result.
- A massage generally works better when your muscles are relaxed, so have a shower or use a heat pad before you try any massage on yourself. You can make a simple heat pad with a towel and an iron.
- If you are unable to do this, carry out a few very gentle stretches before you start your massage.
- The aim of your massage is to release the tension from your back and shoulders, and after a hard day’s work this may be tricky. Fine a quiet place away from distractions and if you feel tense, take a few deep breaths. As you feel yourself relax, you can start your massage.
- Using oils will help if you’re using your hands or fingers. You can also use aromatherapy oils as well.
- Don’t attempt to give yourself all over body massage. Try to restrict your massage to the area where you need it.
- While it can be tempting to use as much force as you can, don’t massage yourself too hard. This can have the opposite effect to the one you want.
- Remember, that just as you would if you had a professional massage, you will need to allow your muscles a chance to recover.
- If you have any equipment to help you with your massage, always read the instructions carefully before use.
Available massage aids
In the days of technology and gadgets, you can be sure that whichever part of the body you want to massage, there will be something available to help.
Here are just some of the things you could consider to help you with a home massage.
- Eye massager
- Foot spa / massager
- Electronic shiatsu massagers
- Hand held massage rollers
- Massage balls or tennis balls
- Handheld back massagers
Whatever you are looking for, there is something available for every budget.
How to massage your own upper back, lower back and shoulders
So let’s start looking at a few techniques you can use yourself.
If you have something like an electronic shiatsu massager or an infrared massager, read the instructions before you begin. Make sure that you are in a quiet space away from noise and distractions so you can relax and concentrate on your massage.
If you do not have a massager, then here are a few things you can try. Always remember, though, not to massage too hard. Whenever we have a massage there will often be some pain, but you want it to be a nice pain as opposed to a bad one. If you find yourself wincing then you are rubbing too hard.
One of the biggest problem areas is the upper back, neck and shoulders. With so many of us sitting slumped over a desk and computer all, there is a tendency to slouch and this causes stiffness in the muscles and pain.
Neck pain is often caused by moving or holding your head incorrectly, particularly if you spend your day looking at a computer screen. There are a few things you can try to help relax the muscles and ease the pain.
- Place your hands either side of your neck, or just on the side where you feel the pain, and using the palm of the hands rub very gently around the area you want to massage. You can also move your head one side, being careful not to overstretch it, and move your palms down the neck a few times.
- Wind a towel or scarf so that it forms a thick braid, and holding this between both hands gently rub it across and along the back of the neck.
Sitting slouched over a desk can also put pressure on the lower back so here are a few things to try.
- If you have a massage roller, or a foam filled roller, lie on the floor with the roller just between your shoulder blades. Gently roll yourself up and down the roller to help loosen the muscles and pressure points in your back.
- One popular and inexpensive method is to use a tennis ball. Just like a roller you can lie on the tennis ball and roll your back around, or you can lean against a wall with a tennis ball behind you. The beauty of a tennis ball is that it is flexible and it can easily be moved so you can concentrate on other areas of the back.
The upper back can get very painful by the end of the day, as can the shoulders if you do not sit correctly.
- One massage technique you can try is with a tennis ball. Lean against a wall with a tennis ball against your shoulder and quite simply move your upper back against the ball.
- You can get a curved, hand held back massager which allows you to rub a rounded end into the areas where you feel pain.
- You can also use the twisted towels or scarves and with one arm above your shoulder and the other arm and your waist at the opposite side of your body, rub the scarf along the upper back to try to relieve the tension.
The shoulders are often easier to massage than some parts of the back.
- One simple method is to simply hold your shoulder with your palm of your hand pressing on one side and gently give it several squeezes.
- If you feel one trigger point needs to be released you can use your fingers or thumb to gently rotate the trigger point until you feel it release.
Here’s a few great tips from Bob Schrupp and Brad Heineck on massaging your own back.
A few additional home massage tips while you’re here!
Tired eyes and eyestrain are an increasing problem, as more of us spend more of our time looking at blue light.
- One very simple way to help relieve tired eyes and eye strain is to lie down, close your eyes and simply place slices of cucumber over them.
- Heat also works well with tired eyes. You can use a washcloth or small towel which has been rinsed with warm water and then wrung, and placed it over the eyes.
- You do need to be careful when massaging the eyes as too much pressure can damage them. There are, however, eye massagers available which not only help relieve eye strain, but massage the surrounding area too. These can be infrared devices, heat, pressure or small handheld devices which you roll up and down the area around the eyes.
We all suffer from tired and aching feet, particularly if we’ve been walking or standing for a long time.
- One great way to massage your feet is with a foot spa or foot massager (learn how to use one here). These are filled with warm water and can be set to massage and relax your feet.
- Feet are one of the areas where reflexology is centred. The foot contains many reflex points which are linked to different areas of the body. You may find that simply giving your feet a good rub with your fingers will not only help them to feel better, but may help relax other parts of the body too.
- You can also use your tennis ball here. Simply place it on the floor and roll your feet around on it.
- Footrests are also available which have built-in rollers. Placed in front of a chair or under your desk at work, you can simply slip off your shoes and roll your feet across the roller.