Self-Massage Techniques You Can Do at Home
Massage therapy has multiple benefits for your health and well-being, but it can also be an expensive and time-consuming treatment.1 Instead of booking and paying for costly professional massages, you can try some helpful self-massage techniques at home.
Let’s explore some simple self-massage techniques that use just your bare hands. You’ll also learn how to use a massage gun on specific muscle groups.
What Are Self-Massage Techniques?
Self-massage techniques let you massage tired muscles and relieve tension with your hands or limited equipment. Using these techniques, you can perform a simple self massage to relax or try to soothe your muscles.
Some self-massage techniques involve the following equipment:
- Trigger point massager
- Tennis ball
- Foam roller
- Massage gun
- Handheld mini massager
You can do a self massage on most muscle groups with no equipment. For some muscles, simple tools make it easier to apply pressure and achieve the soothing results you want.
What Are the Benefits of Self Massage?
Self-massaging, along with physical activity, can be part of an at-home routine for pain management and a time for mindful focus on your body.
Studies have shown that self massages can effectively reduce pain, delayed-onset muscle soreness, and swelling.4 Research has also found that massages can help reduce anxiety and depression.5
Another benefit of performing self-massage techniques is the cost savings of not booking professional massages. You’ll also save time because you can choose to do short or long self massages at whatever time you like. You might even achieve a more focused massage since you can feel exactly where and how severe the tension is.
What Types of Pain Can Self Massage Help?
Self massage may help treat soreness and pain in multiple areas of the body, including the following:2
- Neck and shoulders
- Middle and lower back
Self massage is not a proper treatment for pain from injuries. It’s more suitable for general stiffness and muscle tension.
If you have any questions or concerns about the type of pain you’re feeling and whether or not a massage is the right treatment, talk to your doctor.
You can use the following self-massage techniques to help relax specific parts of your body.
Self Head Massage
Massage therapy may help reduce the severity of headaches.6 You can perform a self head massage using nothing more than gentle pressure from your hands.
To perform a self massage on your head, apply pressure near your temples using your fingers. Rub gently and in circular motions. Move your fingers slowly forward along the top of your forehead. Once you reach the middle, rub back down to your temples.
Self Neck Massage
Doing a self neck massage is a great way to release tension and neck pain after a long day sitting at a desk or in a car.
To massage your neck muscles, use your fingers to put pressure on the back of your lower neck, just above your shoulders. Press and hold in that area for a few seconds and repeat this three to five times until you feel relief. You can also roll your shoulders slowly to help stretch your muscles.
Or you can use an automatic neck massager to knead the muscles around your neck and shoulders.
Self Shoulder Massage
Shoulder pain often accompanies neck stiffness after hours of trying to maintain posture. You can self- massage your shoulders to try to release that tension and relax your muscles.
To massage your shoulders with your hands, reach backward with your hand and place your fingers on your trapezius—your shoulder muscle. Squeeze the muscle between your fingers and your palm. After you’ve squeezed, slide your fingers while applying pressure across the trapezius muscle.
Neck and shoulder massage wraps can provide gentle relief to stiff shoulder muscles. This is typically a better option for shoulder soreness because it can be difficult to maneuver a massage gun to reach your own shoulders.
Self Massage on Chest Muscles
Trigger points in your pectorals—your chest muscles—could cause pain or soreness that’s related to your posture.
To deeply massage your chest muscles, hold a massage gun at an angle against your pectoral muscle and apply the percussion treatment, starting with the lowest setting.
You can gradually increase the intensity if needed. Make sure to relax your muscle while you treat it. Apply the massage gun for about 2 minutes at a time, paying attention to the amount of pressure you’re applying and your body’s response.
You can also use a trigger point massage wand to relieve tension in your chest muscles. To do this, place the ball at the end of the massager against your pectoral muscle. Then, use the handles to push downward, applying deep pressure with the massage ball. Varying the angle can help eliminate muscle knots.
Self Back Massage
It’s tricky to reach your middle and lower back with the right dexterity to do a self massage on the muscles there. But lower back pain is extremely common—in a CDC survey, 25 percent of adults in the U.S. reported experiencing lower back pain in the prior 3 months.3
Many people who suffer from chronic lower back pain look for relief from massages. Using a tennis ball or massage ball solves the issue of reaching your lower back.
To do a self back massage, hold the tennis ball against your lower back and lean back against a wall, pinning the tennis ball between your back and the wall. Then, slowly slide your body around against the tennis ball, applying pressure to work the ball into the muscles of your lower back.
Self Massage on Your IT Band and Legs
The iliotibial (IT) band helps runs from your knee to your upper hip and helps your leg muscles extend, contract, and rotate your hip. Stiffness in the IT band can reduce the range of motion of your leg.7
To massage your leg with a massage gun, hold the device against your muscle and start at the lowest setting. Move it in tiny circles and slowly cover the entire area where you experienced soreness.
A foam roller is another great tool for massaging your IT band and leg. First, lie on your side and place the foam roller beneath your hip. Then, slide your body up and down, rolling your hip muscles over the foam roller and applying pressure with it.
Self Massage for Your Hips and Buttocks
Your buttocks and hips help stabilize your entire body. For that reason, they do a lot of work throughout the day, whether you’re sitting, standing, or both.
To massage your buttocks and hips with a massage gun, hold the gun’s massage attachment at an angle against your sore muscle and apply its lowest setting. If a single spot becomes sensitive, move the massage gun in tiny circles to spread the massage.
You can also do a self massage with a tennis ball. While seated on the floor, lift one buttock and place the tennis ball beneath it. Then, lift that leg slightly to allow yourself to roll in small circular motions on the ball. Keep applying pressure to release tension in these muscles.
Self Massage on Your Feet
If you’re always on your feet, you’ve probably finished more than one day with a serious case of sore feet. You can massage your feet with a massage gun or a simple tennis ball.
Use a massage gun to apply percussive pressure to the bottoms of your feet. This may help relieve soreness and provide soothing relief for tired feet. Apple the massage gun for about 2 minutes at a time.
While sitting in a chair, set your bare foot on top of the tennis ball. Then, while applying downward pressure, roll your foot slowly back and forth. If you can safely balance, you can also stand up and apply stronger force on the ball to massage more deeply.
Self Massage on Your Hands
You can perform a simple self hand massage on one wrist using just your other hand. Gently grasp one wrist with your other hand. Use your thumb to apply pressure in circular motions across the inside of your wrist.
To massage your hand, use one thumb to press into the pad of your other thumb and rub up and down. You can massage the muscles of your fingers by using your thumb to apply pressure in small circles at the base of each finger.
Enjoy Self-Massage Techniques from the Comfort of Home
A self massage is an excellent way to work the tension out of stiff or sore muscles without paying for expensive massage treatments. It’s also a great way to focus your mind and dedicate time to self-care.
Using a massage gun can massage many parts of your body more deeply than a self massage with your hands, alone. Choose a massage gun model that will be comfortable to hold and adjustable to meet your specific needs.
Medical Disclaimer: This content is provided for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.