Self-massage tips while you’re unable to visit your massage therapist.

Self massage techniques
Foam roller

For obvious reasons, clients are unable to come to me for a massage at the moment. This frustrating for both of us, as stress and tension are higher than ever for many, and I know I would be able to help if only we were not (albeit sensibly) having to comply with social distancing.

With this in mind, I thought I would share a few tips to help you work out those knots as best as possible on your own.

Head and scalp massage

Massaging your scalp is something you can do anywhere, at any time, to help you relax and feel refreshed. Indian Head Massage is one of the favourite treatments of many of my clients, but for those with longer hair, in particular, it can leave you looking a little dishevelled. Are you working from home at the moment? If like me, you are spending your days free of make-up and with your hair tied back in a ponytail, it doesn’t matter if you look a little ruffled right now.

While a full Indian Head Massage routine would be impossible to teach you here, you can practice a few moves that are still sure to bring relief. Place your palm under your hair on each side of your head, with your fingertips near your temples. Push the scalp up towards the ceiling, hold a few seconds, and release. Work in sections across your entire scalp.

Face massage

If you think you have a tension headache starting, try to find a darkened, quiet room and use your fingertips to gently circle along your hairline, then cheekbones, then above your eyebrows, and finally where your jaw connects. Drink plenty of water and, if possible, sit out in the fresh air for five minutes. Sometimes this is enough to stop a headache in its tracks.

Hand and forearm massage

Now is not the time for most of us to try to limit social media use and screen time, as these methods of communication are doing their bit to keep so many of us sane. That doesn’t mean that your body will appreciate the extra time you are spending texting and typing though.

Take a seat and relax one arm on top of your thigh with your palm facing upwards. Using the heel of your other palm, push slowly along the length of your forearm towards your wrist. You should use enough pressure to feel some heat, but not enough to burn Follow the same movement with your open palm down toward your fingertips, and then again over the mound of your thumb. Repeat this a few times and then switch hands.

Neck and shoulder massage

More screen time equals more slouching, which will inevitably make your shoulder and neck muscles tight. Drop your shoulders so that they are not resting up by your ears and tuck your chin into your chest to achieve a lovely neck stretch. Put ta couple of fingertips on the back of your neck at the point where your neck and shoulders meet. Press down firmly and hold, then when the muscle feels more relaxed, release and roll your shoulder forward and back slowly. Repeat this as needed.

Lower back massage

Back massage is one area in particular where it’s always going to be more effective to have someone else helping you – before you go asking members of your household though, consider that unless they are qualified, they could end up doing more harm than good. What you can do on your own though, is grab a tennis ball, put it on the floor and lie on it, or stand against a wall and position the between your back and the wall. Lean into the ball and move your body slowly in all directions to massage any areas of muscle tightness (be sure to avoid your spine to prevent injury). Press against the ball hard enough to indent it a little but don’t press so hard that you feel pain. You don’t want to overdo this – just a few minutes of rolling is enough.

Thighs/quads massage

Been making use of the daily exercise allowance by going out on runs or walks? If you’re not used to this, your thighs may now be letting you know they’re there! Conversely, just sitting all day can also lead to tight quads. Loosen them up by rolling a tennis ball or foam roller over the tops of them. The palms of your hands can also be used to make small circles as you work up your thigh from your knee. Another option is to lean forward press your forearm into your thigh, running it up in a single stroke from your knee to the tops of your leg. Do this several times at slightly different angles along the thigh.

Calf massage

Calf tightness can also be eased by rolling a foam roller along the length of your calf muscles. You can also do this with the heels of your palms. Use both hands, knead along either side of the lower leg in small circles, working your way up the calf; flex or point foot as you do it.

While it’s not a massage technique, one of the best ways to ease tight calves can also be achieved by standing on a step and slowly lowering your heels off the back of it. Hold for a few second, then raise up onto your tiptoes. Hold again there and repeat the process a few more times.

Foot massage

Who doesn’t love a foot massage! If you’ve been missing The Wellness Garden’s ‘Light As Air’ foot treatment, you can still sit down and use a tennis ball under the entire surface of your foot to roll out tension in your heel, foot arch and toes. Roll the ball back and forth using a mild pressure or sit with one foot across your other knee. Grasp the ball with your toes, rotating the ball a few times each way. Using both your hands, place them firmly on either side of your foot and then wiggle your hands back and forth to jiggle your foot and release any tension.

Of course, nothing beats having someone else massage you, but in the current climate we have to all adapt as best we can, and the important thing is to take as much responsibility for your health and wellbeing as you can during this time.

The Wellness Garden will still be here when we all come through on the other side of this challenging period, and my only wish for you in wellness in the meantime.