We’re living in strange times and self isolation seems to be a new reality….
While more and more people in general are beginning to work from home as a modern day shift in working arrangements, most of the corporate world has been forced into self isolation during this covid19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, many of us rely on regular massage treatments to help us get through and Remedial Massage clinics are closed everywhere.
You’re probably wondering what can you do to keep functioning until things resume and you can once again see your favorite massage therapist!
Let’s look at some self massage techniques to help you relax while in self isolation..
Release a Stiff & Painful Neck
The neck is often the most in need of some gentle release.
At work it can get tight and sore even with all the ergonomics of a correctly set up desk, but especially so when working from home, at the kitchen table or the couch!
Using one hand, grasp the base of your neck with the whole palm and squeeze it firmly and release, repeatedly, squeezing and releasing the neck muscles as you move up your neck to the base of your skull.
Continue as many times as desired, up and down back towards your shoulder.
When you feel ready, sitting up straight, gently squeeze your neck and hold while carefully turning your head to one side, pausing in that position for a second.
Turn your head back to face forward again while still gently squeezing. Turn to the other side and repeat the process for a few times in each direction.
You are basically releasing the pressure from your neck muscle through the motion.
Now, make a fist with your right hand, placing it against your neck under your right ear with the index and middle finger knuckles engaged softly into the muscle tissue.
While breathing steadily, turn your head gently to either the left. Hold that position for a single breath and return your head to center.
Repeat on the other side using your left hand and turn to the right.
Hold again for a single breath. Continue the process for up to seven times.
Finish with some gentle stretching. Place one hand on the back of your head, take a breath, exhale and let your head drop gently, feeling the stretch all the way down the back of your neck.
Inhale and lift your head. Then exhale and repeat, this time stretch your neck down to the right and then the left. (This should be a comfortable stretch. Don’t over do it!)
Relax those Shoulders
The shoulders and neck are extremely connected and if you are experiencing neck pain, it is good to incorporate these shoulder releases also following on from the above techniques.
The best way to massage the shoulders is simply squeezing the Trapezius muscles gently.
First, reach across your chest with your right hand, resting the palm on top of the left shoulder.
Squeeze the bulk of the muscle firmly between your fingers and palm and hold for several seconds.
Repeat this a few times. Then using just the thumb and forefingers, do the same again, feeling for the tender spot along the shoulder area.
At this point you can incorporate some dragging motion between your pinched finger grip. To do this, simply pinch the muscle lightly, and while holding the thumb steady, roll your fingers over the muscle fibers.
Do this several times up and down the length of the Trapezius muscle from the base of the neck and out to the shoulder.
Now to finish, rest your palm on the top of the shoulder again and then press the knuckle of your thumb against the muscle at the base of the neck.
Slowly rotate your head and neck, pressing firmly against the neck muscles with the thumb knuckle while keeping your hand steady.
After a few head turns, with hand in the same place, press firmly into your back muscle (between your shoulder blade and spine) with your fingertips and rotate your left shoulder blade in a circular motion for a few rotations.
Switch arms and repeat on the right side.
Roll the Upper back
Aside from pressing in with your fingers and rotating the shoulder blades, you can also get a tennis ball, a “spiky” ball or a trigger point tool and place it anywhere in the upper back region.
You can either lean against the wall, angling your body while maintaining a comfortable pressure into the good spots.
To add more effect, raise your arm up against the wall on the same side that you are massaging and hold steady, while turning your head slowly side to side.
If you want to get in deeper, first lay on the floor with knees bent and ease your weight onto the ball, rolling on it.
You can also use a foam roller. You should feel this in your upper and mid-back, where your muscles pull tight and get sore when you slouch.
Simply lie face up with feet shoulder-width apart firmly on the floor.
Place the foam roller beneath your shoulder blades across your back and roll your body up over the foam roller (stretching legs out, body moving away from your feet) so the roller ends at your lower back.
Then back down over the foam roller to your original starting position.
Repeat as needed.
Knead the Glutes & Lower back
Similarly, with the upper back, it’s best to use a tennis ball or your favorite spiky ball to get to the pressure points in the glutes and lower back.
Let’s start with the glutes…
The glutes are one of the most over looked areas of the body and often contributes to lower back pain, so make sure you get into this area often.
Sit on the ground with your legs bent, your hands resting on the ground behind you, and a tennis ball under your butt cheek.
Straighten one leg if it is more comfortable or you can lift your leg off the ground to get in even deeper. Roll around on the ball, working into the places you feel most tension.
Repeat on your other side.
When you feel loosened, grab a second tennis ball if you have one and again, lie on your back with your legs bent and feet firmly planted on the ground. (You can still do it with one side at a time.)
Place the two tennis balls under your lower back around where your sacrum (at the base of the spine where it meets the top of the hip bone) either side of the spine.
Raise and lower your hips slightly to increase and decrease the pressure, while rolling in mini circles – kneading the area with the tennis balls for a good few minutes.
Tight, Sore Legs Be Gone
When your legs are bent for too long or just very stagnant from not moving around the office as much as you are used because you are working in self isolation, they can get very sore around the knees, ITB as the legs tighten.
First relax your leg in a sitting position and massage around the knee and through the quad for a minute. Press into where it hurts with a fingertip or a knuckle and massage in those spots, while slowly bending and straightening your knee.
Repeat 2 to 3 times for each place it hurts.
Then lie on your side with your foam roller under your hip.
Using your hands to brace you and support your weight, slowly roll down from your hip to your knee, rotating your body toward the ground as you go.
Roll back into the starting position and continue until you have worked through both sides and front of both legs.
Melt the Tension in Your Feet
The best part about this is you can do it under your desk while continuing whatever work you are doing.
Again, use your tennis ball or spiky ball while sitting, step on the ball and roll back and forth from heel to toe with firm pressure. If you need more pressure, do it while standing.
If you find any particularly tender spots, spend extra time rolling on those spots in small circles, or of course you can get in with your thumbs.
Forearms & Wrists Will Thank You
If you are typing all day at a computer or doing manual labor, this is actually not only relieving but important to do regularly to avoid RSI issues etc.
Hold your arm out, palm up, and cup it just under the elbow with your opposite hand, being sure to grip around all the forearm tendons/muscles.
While holding your forearm firmly, flip/rotate your outstretched forearm 180 degrees over so your palm then faces the ground, then back again 180 degrees so the palm is facing up once more.
Repeat several times while gripping at different points all down your arm until you reach your wrist.
Then make your way back up to the start position at your elbow, but this time instead of rotating, try bending your wrist/hand up and down repeatedly until done. Switch arms and go again!
So there you have it, some great ways to manage pain and tightness until your next proper full body massage.
Hope it helps!