Self-massage is a wonderful tool to use if you need to release a bunch of muscle tension. We’re living in a very stressed and tense world right now and it’s important to learn how to self-soothe. If you can’t get to a massage therapist at the moment due to financial problems or Coronavirus. Then, learning to knead those tight knots out on your own, or with your partner will help you big time. We could all use a helping hand right now and we thought we could help you relax those tense muscles with these tips.
It might seem like human toughness is a luxury at the moment. With social distancing rules strictly in place, we’re not allowed to do much touching at all. This can take its toll on us all, in more ways than you might think. Self-massage is a really powerful tool to help get you through even the most stressful of times. Of course, self-massage is not as nice as having a professional do it for you, but you might enjoy the connection and time you spend taking care of yourself. These are tough times and we need to nurture ourselves and practice self-care more than ever before.
Interestingly, the human touch is not just something we enjoy sometimes. It’s a biological necessity and we need it to survive. Touch is the very first sense we develop as babies. If an infant is starved of touch it will fail to meet growth standards. Therefore, we are trying to tell you just HOW powerful a tool it is.
Self-Massage Is A Tool You Can Learn
According to massage experts, touch builds cooperative relationships and improves immunity. So any form of touch can help increase pleasure hormones and reduce stress hormones. However, self-massage is an especially effective tool particularly during times when you have to be alone or cautious about touching one another. But knowing exactly how to self-massage will be most effective. Moreover, it can relieve muscle tension created by physical and emotional stress, which will improve the health of our bodies and minds.
Finding ways to progressively relieve muscle tension is a life-changer you can’t miss out on. We cannot emphasize enough how important it is for your health to manage your stress and anxiety. If you’ve been experiencing intense backaches, neck pain, or shoulder tightness, you’re most probably suffering from anxiety or stress. You see, when you’re really anxious or stressed in your life, it can manifest physically as a direct symptom. The body automatically responds to this with muscle tension. However, self-massage can be done in a variety of different ways, you’ve just got to learn what works best for you.
Experts also recommend progressive muscle relaxation as a method that helps relieve intense muscle pain. They explain that progressive muscle relaxation is where you tense a group of muscles as you breathe in, and you relax them as you breathe out. You work on your muscle groups in a certain order. The trick is to relax your body fully because it will then no longer feel anxious. But you need to practice this regularly for a few weeks to get better at this skill. With some time, you should be able to self-massage and relieve some stress and tension on your own.
It Requires Practice To Self-Massage
In the beginning, you might find it easier to follow some self-massage tutorial videos on YouTube or an audio recording. You need to learn all the major muscle groups. When searching, have a look for progressive muscle relaxation audio recordings. Self-massage is also a good way to help you remedy poor sleeping patterns at night.
What Causes Those Knotted Muscles?
There are usually many reasons why we have giant knots in our backs or necks. However, for many people it is often a combination between too much stress and poor posture. Very few of us have perfect posture. Whether you sit or stand during the day. In fact, those of you who work on your feet often stand swaybacked.
This is why self-massage and knowledge are really going to make a big difference. Then those of us who work at desks push our heads forward and hunch our shoulders. We then sit so long that our hips become tight. And over time, our muscles get stuck in the memory of those positions.
However, as we mentioned it’s not only your posture creating these knots. Your muscles remember emotions almost too well. It is a natural reaction for our muscles to contract when we stress to protect us from harm. But then when the threat disappears, our muscles let go. Chronic stress is when the muscles can never relax. And without self-massage, prolonged chronic stress leads beyond discomfort to physical and mental disorders.
Identify Your Own Trigger Points
Experts explain that a muscle knot is a trigger point. Moreover, it’s a contraction within a muscle that refuses to release. Sometimes the pain is localized to one area or it can radiate to other parts of the body. For example, a trigger point in a neck muscle you don’t feel may be responsible for the pain in your jaw you do feel. The good news is that, through self-massage, we can release trigger points before our bodies start compensating elsewhere.
Often we think we can’t get a massage in when nobody is willing to do it for us. Or many, your partner isn’t near or maybe you don’t have one right now. That’s okay because self-massage will take care of it for you. You can press on or roll your trigger points with your fingers, knuckles, or a tennis or massage ball. It’s a little bit of work for yourself, but trust us when we say, it’s totally worth the effort.
Just try not to spend more than five seconds on one spot, because this cuts off blood flow and prevents healing.
Let’s define one muscle at a time.
Most of us experience some kind of neck pain on our journeys. Self-massage is a fantastic way to help relieve this tension whenever you need it.
Do you experience chronic headaches? Experts recommend examining your sternocleidomastoids, the ropy neck muscles that extend from just behind the ear to the collarbone. Apparently, looking down at a keyboard or screen creates trigger points on the muscle which then refers pain into the forehead, ears, or cheeks.
To self-massage, gently pinch the muscle between your thumb and forefinger and roll it like a piece of taffy. Work your way up the entire rope.
Your Shoulders Need Love Too
This part of you can get completely locked up, tense and painful. After a while, it results in a that travels from the neck into your shoulders. These are called your levator scapulae, or shoulder-shrugger muscles.
If you need to self-massage these, then wrap an arm around yourself to touch the top inside corner of your opposite shoulder blade. Press on the knots and roll back and forth with your fingers. Or place a ball between your shoulder and a wall to dig deep into these trigger points.
The Chest, Your Heart
A lot of emotions are held within our chest region, as this is where the heart chakra lies. Therefore, it’s very important to love and not neglect this part of our bodies.
In fact, when your body is seated with rounded shoulders for long periods of time, the pectoralis major muscles collapse and grow tight. This can potentially cause shortness of breath or pain in the front of the shoulder and down the inside of the arm.
To self-massage these muscles, run your fingers or knuckles just below your collarbone from the center outward. Try to move away from the space where you feel a pulse. Or, while standing, pin a ball between your chest and the wall with your arm outstretched to roll out this area.
And The Lower Back
Now we know this part of our bodies can get really sore. You need to self-massage this area gently.
If you’re standing at a counter or at a desk without your core engaged, you may feel pain in your lower back or buttocks. The source could be a trigger point in your quadratus lumborum, two muscles that sit on either side of your spine between your pelvis and your lowest rib.
Try to self-massage by lying on the floor with your knees bent. Secure the ball on your lower back and gently roll over tender spots.
We hold a significant amount of muscle tension and soreness in our buttocks.
Often the pain in your lower back is emanating from trigger points in your buttocks. To get into the meaty gluteus maximus muscles, sit on a ball and roll in all directions.
Try to self-massage by leaning back to roll just below the hip bone. For more pressure, prop the foot to the side you are rolling out on the opposite knee (figure four position).
If you allow your body to stress and hold too much tension in the calves, then you will cause the muscles in your feet to knot up. It’s important you take time to self-massage by pressing your fingers into the arch of your foot.
You can also self-massage by rolling on a golf ball you’ve chilled in the freezer. If left untreated, these knots can lead to a type of tendinitis in the foot called plantar fasciitis.
We store a lot of emotional stress in our feet too, which is why going barefoot on some grass or in your garden really helps us ground and relax. Give it a try.
And if you’re fortunate enough to have a partner then communicate with them. Learn to give each other massages, because it’s not always ideal to self-massage. Besides, it’s good to help relax one another. Giving a massage isn’t just a nice thing to do; it can also decrease anxiety for the giver.
If you are going to give each other a massage then make sure you get feedback from your partner or housemate. You don’t want to be too aggressive or too gentle. Start by asking, ‘Do you want more pressure or less?’ Massage experts recommend using broad strokes with the palm of your hand and moving in one direction. But ideally, you want to move toward the heart. It’s also a plus to add a drop of lotion or oil to your hands to improve glide.
Gritty strength is probably the one most important character traits we need to develop right now. 2020 has by far been one of the most trying and challenging years of them all. Find out how to focus on developing grit.
Knead those knots away. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/lifestyle/wellness/how-to-give-a-massage/
Stress Management: Doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Michigan Medicine. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uz2225