Has social distancing got you missing your regular spa visit? Are you craving a foot massage? Has WFH made you long for a neck massage? Learning how to give yourself a self massage can be a great skill, especially when you’re stuck at home.
These easy self massage techniques work well for the tired shoulders and neck of everyone working from home, and we’ve added a foot and face self-massage for a bit of pampering.
How to do a self massage for neck
Self massage techniques for neck: Place your right palm just under your hairline, cupping the nape of your neck. Squeeze gently, pressing and releasing, moving your hand upward and downward. Alternate with your left hand so that you cover both sides of your neck.
Use your thumb and index finger (pointing finger) to lightly pinch the muscles on the back and sides of your neck.
You might like to mix this self-massage with some neck stretches. Tilt your right ear toward your right shoulder, keeping your back straight and shoulders aligned. Repeat on the other side.
You could also use a foam roller for self massage.
How to self massage shoulders
Self massage techniques for shoulders: Place your hand on the joint where your neck meets your shoulders, fingers pointing down. This spot holds a lot of tension and you’ll be able to feel long muscles going down your shoulders. Gently massage using firm circular or pressing motions, moving your fingers up the sides of your neck and down your shoulders.
If you work out with weights, you might want to squeeze and release your biceps and triceps too as part of these self massage techniques.
Repeat on the other side.
How to give yourself a foot massage
Self massage techniques for foot: Use your favourite foot cream or a massage oil and apply generously.
Rub your soles briskly to boost circulation. Ayurveda says that foot massages are good for sleeping peacefully. People who experience insomnia can also benefit from a quick foot massage when they go to bed.
Gently bend your toes back and forward, as much as is comfortable for you. Then take hold of each toe and wiggle it.
Press the thumbs of both hands into your sole in short, firm strokes. The ball of the foot and the ankle bear the most weight and can take deeper pressure.
Move to the top of your foot. You can move your thumb in small circular movements or use your knuckles if you like.
Massage the heel and the ankle in firm strokes with your thumb. You can cup your heel with your palm and squeeze gently.
You can do this massage at any time of the day, with or without cream or oil. If you’re using a cream or oil, throw on a pair of socks afterwards to give your feet some extra care and to prevent your feet from slipping.
How to do a self face massage
Self massage techniques for face: Make sure you cleanse your face and wash your hands thoroughly before starting.
Apply your favourite lotion or facial oil to help your fingers slide over your face.
Start from your forehead, using three fingers (index, middle, ring) to perform this massage. Run your fingers from your brows up towards your hairline. Move sideways from the inner corners of your brows to your temples in upward strokes. Repeat several times.
Press your fingertips into the sides of your nose and draw outwards and upwards, along your cheekbones and up towards your ears. Repeat several times.
Press your fingers into the corners of your mouth and draw outwards and upwards to where your jawbone meets your ear. Repeat several times.
Using your thumb and index finger, press along your jawbone, moving from under your chin up towards your ears. Repeat a few times.
Use your fingertips as if you’re playing the piano along the eye socket, and under and over your eye, without pulling your skin.
Slide three fingers from your ears down along the sides of your neck and over your shoulders, pressing gently to help the lymph fluids drain. Repeat several times.
You can incorporate a facial roller into this routine too.
Abhyangam or oil self massage at home
Abhyanga is an ancient Ayurvedic form of massage. It is considered to offer many benefits. During this massage, you will oil your body from head to toe with warm oil. A self massage of this type improves your circulation, reduces joint pain, alleviates dry skin, and makes you feel relaxed and refreshed.
To do this, you need to warm up your oil first. You can use coconut oil, almond oil, sesame oil, or an aromatherapy oil that is suitable for body massage. Try to avoid using a lot of essential oils. Contrary to popular belief, most essential oils have high amounts of essences and chemicals that can cause irritation and sensitivity. Even if they sound natural and innocent, truth is even natural stuff is actually all chemicals at the end of the day. Aloe vera has a chemical formulation, our bodies are chemicals. So it’s best that we use either dermatologically created or approved products, especially on a sensitive skin are like the face.
To heat up your oil, put the bottle into a pan of warm water and allow it to heat up.
This self massage can get messy, so it is best to do it in your bathroom.
If you like, you may play soothing music and use dimmed lights or candles (do use these safely) to help you relax.
Start by applying warm oil to your scalp, using the pads of your fingertips (not your nails) to rub your scalp firmly.
Move on to your body, applying oil generously and spending time massaging it in.
Start at the extremities and direct your strokes towards your heart. Use circular hand movements around joints with a gentle but firm pressure.
Leave the oil on for as long as you can – at least twenty minutes if possible.
Some people prefer not to use oils on their face, but it’s a great time for a face mask or cooling eye pads.
When you’re done, take a shower and use soap and body wash as you usually would.
Do this self massage at a time when you’re unlikely to be disturbed. You will not be able to pick up your phone with oily hands or run out on oiled feet to answer doorbells, so choose a good time.
You’ll need to clean up afterwards because the floor or tub can get quite slick, so make sure you have the right cleaning aids.
Now that you’ve learned the simplest techniques for self massage, here are some great opportunities to use them.
- Try a self neck massage after a long day at your computer
- Perform a self foot massage while you relax in front of the TV or just before bedtime
- Use a shoulder massage to perk up your mid-afternoon slump.
Do remember that self massage should not be performed on injuries or if you are unwell. Always use a gentle but firm touch on your body, and do not manipulate any body parts beyond their comfort level.