I love, love, love a good massage, and I know I’m not alone. My hubby gives the best foot massages in the world and a great back rub, but even he (saint that he is) doesn’t necessarily have the time to really rub out the knots that seem to pop up all over my body after a day of sitting. Even right now, I can feel the tension in my shoulders, lower back, and calves. I mentally assumed that massages are something that can only be achieved by paying someone else to do it (or begging a significant other). But the truth is, a massage is literally at your fingertips. Self-massage is not that hard and can be relaxing and great for your overall health.
For some people self-massage may seem like common sense—“something hurts, I’ll rub it out”—but I really didn’t understand it until recently. The company I work for is publishing a book on natural beauty and wellness, and one of the things the author discusses is ayurvedic practices, including self-massage. They call it abhyanga. I had never really thought that massage was something I could do for myself, but it is incredibly relaxing and a great way to wind down, especially if you follow it with a soothing bath. You’ll need a shower or bath anyway to remove the oil that doesn’t soak in.
Almost everything I’ve read recommends around 15+ minutes for a self-massage session, so by that time the majority of the oil will likely have soaked in. And you’re going to want to take that time because it feels so good. You really don’t need any special tools, although if you’re having back pain or shoulder pain a foam roller and/or a tennis ball can be helpful. Otherwise, it’s just your hands. I personally love the “hug it out.” I don’t realize how much tension I’m holding in my arms until I do this. I also feel like it helps my shoulders relax.
If you do have a foam roller or a tennis ball, here are some great ways you can use these. I personally prefer self-massage with oil and no “tools.” I find that I feel more connected to my body and its response to the massage, and I find it more relaxing. Plus, using oil serves a couple purposes: it’s moisturizing and makes the massage more fluid. Your hands glide over rather than tugging on your skin. That added to the fact that it requires me to take a bath or shower afterward is just the whole relaxing, meditative experience I need in my life.
If you’re not convinced, there are many benefits to self-massage:
Moisturizing (if you use oil)
Lessens pain and tension
You can read more about the benefits here, as well as methods of self-massage to solve common complaints like sinus pressure and tense shoulders.