Getting a massage from a licensed professional at Healing Hands is the smart thing to do when you are in pain or dealing with stress. However, what you do afterwards is important too. Your therapist could give you a wonderful 1-hour massage and release all your pain and tension, but what happens the next day if you go back to slouching in front of your desk for 8+ hours? You will probably be right back where you started. 😢
That’s why we tell clients that there are times when it may not be enough simply to receive a therapeutic massage; they also need to do their homework. This includes:
- Being present at work
- Taking deep breaths often
- Sitting up straight
- Scheduling mini stretch breaks
- Applying contrast therapy (heat/cold) to sore areas
- Performing brief self-massage sessions
A well applied self-massage has many benefits: it can help improve blood circulation, enhance the quality of sleep, relieve pain, eliminate liquids retained by the body, and provide an endorphin boost!
That’s why this week’s blog is full of self-massage tips to do at home and/or the office, as homework in between your massage sessions with us:
Relaxing Facial Massage
To achieve a smooth glide, we recommend moisturizing the skin before you start. Always use soft strokes in the direction of the arrows in the picture. Slide your fingers gently over your face, upwards, in straight and circular movements. Then, from the center of your forehead, massage out towards your temple with the index fingers. Repeat several times, then press lightly on your forehead with the palms of your hands. For the eyes, dab delicately with your fingertips in a circle around the orbitals (the bones surrounding the eye socket). Repeat. Next, massage your nose by doing straight lines up and down the cartilage. Apply some firm circular motion on the hinge of the jawbone; if you grind your teeth at night, you’ll notice the masseter muscle about the size of a little walnut under the skin! Since all face strokes go towards the ear, finish up by gently rubbing from your ear to your neck towards the clavicle to activate the lymphatic system.
Relieve Tension in the Neck
The pain we feel in the neck can range from mild to extremely annoying and sometimes it will travel all the way up your head – especially on days when we are on our phones a lot (as in, practically every day!). Put your right arm across your chest and rest your hand on the back of your neck, gently pinching around the back of your neck, on your trapezius muscle. Next, tilt your head toward the opposite shoulder and slide your fingers from the back on the neck towards the front, towards the clavicle. Repeat several times and perform the same exercise with the left arm. Then, put your wrists at the base of your neck and place your fingers on both sides of your spine. Massage the muscles around it, and make sure to get the back of the skull and the scalp too. End by slowly nodding “yes” and “no” with your head, and rotating it in slow circles.
Relieve Tension in the Back
Bad posture, work stress, and old injuries like herniated discs can cause back pain and muscle contractures (commonly called knots). To help relieve this tension, you can do a simple exercise with a tennis ball that will take only a few minutes. Standing next to a wall, place the ball on your back, targeting the area where it hurts the most. Sandwiching the ball between your back and the wall, lean in and move your body up and down, pressing into the tennis ball wherever you feel the knots. You can make circular motions and/or press and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat these same movements in different areas of your back, avoiding the spine. For a more intense reach you can try the massage cane.
Massaging the Ankles and Legs
The most common cause of swelling in the legs and especially the ankles and feet is poor circulation. To relieve this swelling, it is recommended to lie down and raise the legs above the level of the heart. However, if you notice lower body swelling while at work, it is much easier and more practical to simply massage the area in order to promote blood circulation.
Position a chair in such a way that you can sit on it with your knees at a 90-degree angle and with enough space to lean forward and touch your ankles with your feet flat on the floor. Starting with one leg, make slow upward squeezes with both palms from foot to the knee (back and front of the calf). Repeat, on the opposite leg. Next, make circular movements with your fingers around the ankle, repeating several times in both directions. Point and flex both feet, also rotate the ankles clockwise and counterclockwise. Finish by gently squeezing both feet.
Now that you know a little more about self-massage, all you have to do is practice! Repeat these four relaxing techniques in between your sessions with us, for the best results.