Self massage is a technique that enables you to ease the aches and pains in your muscles as a supplement or replacement for professional massage treatment. Self massage is great when your budget is a bit stretched or you have an immediate pain that needs to be addressed for your own personal comfort. Whilst it does not necessarily give you the same range of benefits that a professional massage can provide, this is an excellent maintenance strategy for your well being.
When you are performing self massage, there are a number of techniques that you can use to ease muscle tension and relieve pain. This article provides you with an overview of some simple ones that you may find useful.
Pressure Point Therapy
Applying some gentle massage and pressure to the area affected is a simple way to start. You should be able to find your pressure points with a little bit of trial and error. You will know when you have hit the spot as you will feel tension release in the surrounding muscles and start to experience some relief immediately. If it is highly sensitive to the touch or hot, then it may be best to leave it, or have a professional take a look, as the area may be injured or inflamed and massage will potentially aggravate it more. As a general rule you should feel relief and potentially mild discomfort but not pain.
Towel or Strap
A towel, strap or belt can all assist you in gaining a deeper stretch in the right areas. If you are particularly tense or simply not very flexible, it can help to use these implements to help you reach for your limbs and stretch properly. It is better to do this than force a stretch that your muscle is not capable of or not stretching properly. This is a useful technique with both legs and arms to help relieve tension.
When an area is extremely tense, the muscles can become locked up making it difficult to massage. Heat is a useful way of relaxing the muscles in tense areas, particularly hard to reach places such as your neck, shoulders and lower back. The heat also relaxes you mentally and can be a lovely way to wind down before going to sleep. When you use a heat pack make sure it is not so hot that it is uncomfortable by wrapping it in a towel or blanket. I typically apply heat for around 10 to 20 minutes to ensure my muscles have been adequately relaxed and tension is reduced.
If you have an injury, application of ice after exercise should form an important part of your recovery routine. It also helps to elevate the affected area. This will reduce swelling and protect the injured tissue. If you do not have an ice pack then I would recommend using frozen peas or corn. They are malleable so you can easily mold them into shape and, similarly to heat, it is best to wrap them in a towel. You would typically apply the ice for around 10 to 20 minutes.
A tennis ball is a great way to apply pressure to massage hard to reach places such as your shoulders. You can roll the ball over the area using a wall or the floor to assist or use the tennis ball to apply pressure in the affected area by pressing into it with your body weight. You will be able to feel if you are applying it to the right area similar to pressure point work as you will immediately feel relief throughout the affected area. Other objects that can be useful are walls and broom sticks are help get into hard to reach areas.
The trick with self massage is to manage your pain whilst also being gentle with your body. If you are feeling unreasonable levels of pain from your self massage then try reducing the pressure or give it a rest and try again later. If you want specific exercises or treatment options, it is helpful to ask your therapist and they will be able to show you other techniques or specific stretches for the affected area. If you have any persistent issues you should definitely seek professional advice.
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