How many times have you said “I really need a massage” in the past few months?

The stress of work, the damage that comes from sedentary jobs and the weird way you slept last night can all take a terrible toll on your muscles. You might be tempted to reach for over-the-counter or even prescription pain meds to get relief from all the tension, but wait a second!

Massage therapy has been show to effectively relieve muscle tension, spasms, inflammation, fluid retention, aches, stiffness and pain. Other benefits include improved circulation (blood and lymph), general flexibility, range of motion and increased tissue elasticity (eg, scar tissue).

But who has the time (or money) to spend an hour on the massage table every week? While professional massage appointments are beneficial for addressed chronic problems, you can go for longer between sessions by dealing with smaller aches and pains on your own.

Keep reading to learn some of the top self-massage techniques for those times when your significant other isn’t around and you can’t get to the massage therapist!

1. Hands & Wrists

Sitting at a computer all day can trigger irritation, stiffness and even swelling in our wrists and fingers. Combat it with this simple hand massage technique from Woman’s Day:

1. Hold your left hand up, palm facing outward. Using your right hand, pull the fingers back toward your wrist until you feel a stretch, and hold that position for 5 seconds. Repeat the stretch on your right hand.

2. Press the palms of your hands together at chest height. Lower them towards your lap until you feel the stretch in your wrists. Hold for 5 seconds.

3. Spread your fingers wide for 5 seconds.

4. On your left hand, gently pull the thumb back toward your wrist until you feel the stretch. Hold it for 5 seconds, and then repeat the move on your right hand.

5. Curl your fingers into a fist: Start with your pinky finger, and gradually fold the remaining four fingers into a fist. Then curl your wrists inward until you feel the stretch, and hold it for 5 seconds.

6. Massage the inside and outside of each hand, and then gently shake them out.

2. Lower Back

Once you reach a certain age, it can seem like your lower beck never really stops hurting. It feels great when a massage therapist really digs into those aching back muscles, but since your own arms don’t really face the right direction, doing it yourself can be a little bit of a challenge. The answer? A tennis ball, according to

1. Lay on the floor with at tennis ball placed near the area that hurts most.

2. By shifting your position on the floor, roll the tennis ball around until you hit the spot that’s most tender.

3. Stop moving and lie with the ball in that trigger spot for 1 to 5 minutes or until you feel your muscles relax. It will be uncomfortable at first, but go easy on yourself and take deep, slow breaths to relax.

3. Head/Scalp

You know that awesome, relaxed feeling you get when a stylist touches your head during a haircut? You can achieve that feeling on your own, whenever you want, with self-massage for your head and scalp.

“Scalp massage is something you can do anywhere, any time, to relax and feel refreshed,” Alice Sanvito, massage therapist at Massage St. Louis in St. Louis, Missouri, told

1. Place the heel of your palms under your hair on either side of your head near your temples.

2. Push the scalp up toward the ceiling, hold a few seconds, and release.

3. Work in sections across your entire scalp.

4. Neck & Shoulders

Are you constantly trying to remind yourself to sit up straight? Then, just five minutes later, find that you’re once again hunched over, with your back curved and your shoulders scrunched up to your ears?

Here’s how personal trainer and yoga instructor Mindy Caplan recommends correcting the neck and shoulder aches that come from bad posture and computer work.

1. Drop your shoulders so they’re not hunched up by your ears.

2. Slowly tuck your chin to your chest to stretch your neck.

3. Place two or three fingertips on the back of your neck where your neck and shoulders meet.

4. Press firmly and hold, releasing when the muscle feels more relaxed.

5. Roll your shoulder forward and back slowly. Repeat as needed.

5. Calves

Are your legs throbbing after wearing high heels all day or standing on a hard, concrete floor? Take a cue from the world’s elite running athletes by using a foam roller or a device known as “the stick.” Don’t have either of these? Use your hands instead:

1. Use the heels of both hands to knead along either side of lower leg in small circles, working your way up the calf; flex or point your foot as you do it.

2. Drag the heels of your palms from the ankle toward knee along different sides of the calf.


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