So, what did you accomplish when you massaged yourself? You stimulated blood flow. When you were cold, this helps you to feel warmer. For sore, achy, and/or tense muscles, this relaxes them and relieves the pain.
When done slowly and gently, the massage relaxes you. But, did you know that doing the same strokes quickly and with vigor will invigorate you, wake you up, make you feel more energetic? So, when you wake up or need more energy during the day, put a more oomph into your self-massage. When you want to relax or if you have problems falling asleep, do a gentle slow massage.
One of my clients recently asked me "What type of self-massage is the most beneficial?"
Not to be facetious, any self-massage that you perform will be beneficial. If you massage yourself when you are tense, tired, achy, sore and that feeling decreases, then that massage is beneficial. You pretty much instinctively know how much pressure to apply; rarely will you press so hard that it brings you uncomfortable pain. You will use strokes or techniques that you enjoy and will bring you relief. These could be the smooth gliding strokes and kneading of a Swedish massage, the deep pressure of a Deep Tissue massage, or Foot (and/or Hand) Reflexology, or Acupressure, or Trigger Points, or Lymph Drainage, or any other technique; or you could use a hand-held massage tool of some sort.
Regular self-massage also has benefits when you are not tense or achy or sore. It can enhance your wellness by aiding in digestion, removing waste products, improving your immune system and its capabilities to fight illness and disease, improving your circulation, and helping you to feel better (through the release of endorphins, natural pain killers which may also elevate your mood).
Now you probably would like to know "How do I do self-massage?"
I would start by gently gliding my hand(s) over the skin and muscles moving toward the heart. If you would like to use oil or lotion, you could apply it at this time. Then, I would knead my muscles (like I would knead bread); I could also make circles with my hands or fingers. This is where I would work deeper, apply more pressure for sore muscles. I would finish as I started, by gently gliding my hand(s) over the skin and muscles moving toward the heart. To adequately work your entire body, I would recommend spending at least 20-30 minutes a session.
There are many sites on the Internet that guide you through a specific protocol with directions and photographs. Here are a few, from very general to specific:
"Should I use a massage tool?"
Massage tools can be very effective both for applying deeper pressure with little effort and for reaching hard-to-reach body parts. The Back is especially hard area to massage using your own hands (DUH!). So it would be beneficial to use some sort of tool. Rolling on a tennis ball (tied in a sock or not) is an inexpensive tool that can be very effective. There are many tools out there. This Internet page describes many of them:
Now, Go give yourself a massage!
- "Self-Massage Techniques," Dave Otis., LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist), http://www.coolnurse.com/massage.htm
- "Self Massage Techniques," Kim Draper, Feb 26, 2003, http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Draper1.htmlhttp://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Draper1.htmlhttp://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/Draper1.html
- "Self massage techniques," http://ga.essortment.com/selfmassagetec_rspq.htm
- "Self Massage Techniques," Kim Draper, http://the-vu.com/Self_Massage.htm