Select Page

This following post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.

Disclaimer

Although I am a physical therapist by profession, I am not your physical therapist.  This information is for educational purposes only, it does not constitute medical advice and does not establish any kind of therapist-patient relationship with me. I am not liable or responsible for any damages resulting from or related to your use of this information. As always, check with your midwife, OBGYN, or healthcare provider prior to beginning any new treatments during pregnancy.

Self-massage is a technique that involves applying pressure to specific areas of your body to release tension and improve circulation. It is a cost-effective alternative to professional massages. You can perform it at any time, in the comfort of your own space.

Benefits of Massage:

There are many benefits of massage, so find one of these tools below to get started today.

  • Reduced muscle pain
  • Reduced joint pain
  • Improved circulation
  • Reduced edema
  • Reduced muscle tension and headaches
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles
  • Better sleep

Tools for Self-Massage

You can use various tools for self-massage, such as foam rollers, massage balls, tennis balls, or even your hands. Foam rollers and massage balls are specifically designed to target different muscle groups and provide better results.

Tennis Ball Massage

This is by far the cheapest and easiest option and it works very well! This is the most common self-massage I teach my patients in the clinic.

All you need to purchase is a pack of tennis balls and a tube sock if you don’t already have a clean one around the house. The tennis balls can be used up against the wall, lean in, and massage your entire back from your neck to your glutes.

You can also lay down on the tennis balls for increased pressure throughout the muscles along your spine.

There are many types of massage balls you can purchase as well which are very similar in concept to the tennis balls. Tennis balls have a slight give that makes them an excellent and cost-efficient option.

Massage Cane

massage cane is a tool that you can use to massage various parts of your body. The cane is angled so you can reach your back for a massage without straining your neck or shoulders.

You can use the nobs on the end of the cane to reach between your shoulder blades or use the two knobs to massage your lower back. It’s a great ergonomic option for reaching those hard-to-reach areas without the help of someone else.

Occipital Release Tool

This massage tool is specific for neck pain, particularly the suboccipital muscles which are a group of small muscles at the base of your head. These muscles are responsible for various movements and stabilizing actions of the head and upper neck. They play a crucial role in maintaining proper head posture and facilitating head movements.

Because of their location and functions, the suboccipital muscles can become tense or tight due to factors like poor posture, stress, prolonged periods of looking down (as when using electronic devices), or other factors that strain the neck and head muscles. This tension can lead to discomfort, headaches, and even referred pain in various areas of the head and neck.

This tool is great for targeting these muscles to get them to relax and rest. Start slowly by using for just a few minutes and work up to using for about 10 minutes at a time.

Foam Roller

Foam rollers are cylindrical tools made of dense foam that can be used to apply pressure to different parts of the body. A foam roller is a great addition to your home gym or therapy equipment for multiple reasons. One great reason is the use of the foam roller for self-massage techniques. This foam roller is a medium-density foam which is a happy medium that works well for most people. They also come in soft and firm or high-densities as well.

How to Perform Self-Massage

Find the Right Spot: Identify the areas of your body that feel tight, tense, or sore. Common areas include your back, neck, shoulders, hips, thighs, and calves.

Start Gradually: Begin with gentle pressure and gradually increase it as your muscles start to relax. Applying too much pressure initially can cause discomfort or pain. In this instance, more is not always better, so start slow and work your way up.

Apply Pressure: Position the tool on the target area and gently roll or move your body over it. For foam rollers, use your body weight to control the pressure. For smaller tools like massage balls (or tennis balls), you can apply pressure using your hands, a wall, or the floor.

Slow Movements: Move slowly and mindfully. When you encounter a tight or tender spot (also known as a trigger point), pause and hold gentle pressure on that spot for about 20-30 seconds. This helps the muscle fibers release tension.

Breathe and Relax: As you apply pressure, take slow, deep breaths. Relax your body and try to release tension with each exhale. Avoid tensing up or holding your breath, as this can counteract the benefits of the massage.

Cover the Area: Roll or move the tool to cover the entire targeted muscle group. You can adjust the angle and direction of pressure to address different parts of the muscle.

Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body responds. If you experience severe pain, discomfort, or if a certain area feels too sensitive, ease off the pressure. Self-massage should not cause extreme pain.

Stay Hydrated: Hydration plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy muscles and fascia. Drink plenty of water before and after your self-massage session.

Consistency is Key: Regular self-massage can provide cumulative benefits. Incorporate it into your routine, especially after workouts or whenever you feel muscle tension building up.