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How to practice self-massage

This week, I fell off my bike – yes, I hear you, it was not a bright thing to do!

I’m ok by the way, just a few scrapes and bruises, but I did have an aching wrist for a few days. Typical I did this now I’m back at work and constantly using my body for helping you with your aches and pains. However, it was nothing a little self-massage, reiki and arnica salve couldn’t sort out.

Whether it’s exercising, sitting at a desk all day, bending over in the garden, picking up children, or even staring at our smartphones, we put a lot of pressure on our bodies to support us.

While hands-on therapies from professional therapists like me are now an option for you, there are some practices you can take home to get similar benefits. Massage’s body balancing power encourages muscle relaxation, improved circulation, skin nourishment and waste removal. And self-massage encompasses these wellbeing benefits, which you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home. This simple practice is a handy stress reliever to work into your self-care routine if you can’t get a massage right now.

Internationally-acclaimed massage expert, Beata Aleksandrowicz tells us how to practice self-massage at times of heightened stress.

What are the benefits of self-massage?

Massage is essential for our wellbeing. It works on each system of the body simultaneously. However, we don’t always have time to book treatments, and many of us are still anxious, self-isolating, or looking after the kids during the holidays. This doesn’t mean that we’re vulnerable or without solutions to ease our aches and pains. Instead, you can use self-massage techniques regularly to help prevent tension from accumulating. Self-massage also allows us to slow down and connect with ourselves.

How exactly does self-massage work?

You don’t need any experience in massage to provide yourself with some good, effective techniques. You just need clear, quality, straightforward guidance. The most important thing is to make sure that you don’t apply too much pressure, that you apply each stroke slowly, and you breathe during each step of the technique. The key here is to stay in the moment, be present and connect with yourself.

How can massage treat specific tension in the body?

Tension headaches

Tension headaches will affect different parts of the body: shoulders, neck, scalp, temples, sometimes even in the middle of the back. Why? Because we’re connected through connective tissues. Every muscle and organ is wrapped in connective tissue, so any tension in the upper body will impact the lower body as well.

It’s important to understand the reason for your tension headaches. Are they regular? Do you notice when they occur? Are they related to your stress levels, or maybe to the tension in your shoulders? Is it emotional as much as physical? How do you generally feel right now? This will all impact how you feel and will manifest in your body. So, ensure you give yourself space and time when you massage.

Try freshening up your room, maybe light some candles or diffuse essential oils. Make it special. With tension headaches, you will need to address your scalp, forehead, temples, neck and shoulders and if you really want to feel a difference, combine massage with breathing and meditation. We are complex creatures; a combination of mind, body and soul, so each of these aspects needs to be addressed.

Massage for stress in the shoulders

For dealing with stress specifically in your shoulders, you’ll need to go for relaxation first and then address the knots and specific tension spots. Use the palms of your hands, your thumbs and even a tennis ball – the latter can be used nice and gently. Again, the body is connected – remember that. So, it’s important to massage shoulders if you have issues in your lower back and vice versa.

Tension in your hands and feet

We use our hands so much, so naturally, they store a lot of tension. But we need flexibility and strength. Hand massage is fantastic! It brings much more flexibility and strength in the joints, smooths skin and gives a fantastic feeling of relaxation and care.

The same with the feet. 30% of all our joints are in our feet. It’s an important yet often neglected part of the body. Our feet keep us in balance, carry our weight and make every movement possible. I’d recommend regular reflexology, but also walking barefoot at home if possible, which allows the feet to rest and re-align.

Can we include other self-care practices into self-massage?

The tempo of massage is so important for its effectiveness. Generally, we are looking for slow and intentional strokes. To be slow and intentional, we need to bring ourselves to the present moment. This is the only place where we can experience the positive effect of massage. Starting with the breath, make sure you provide yourself with enough oxygen as this will increase the benefits of the massage. Meditation will help you to stay in the ‘here and now’, so you’ll experience every step of self-massage with total awareness.

What is your favourite massage treatment and could we adapt this for self-massage?

I like a deep, relaxing and meaningful massage that acknowledges that I am a combination of my mind, body and my spirituality. This concept is incorporated into all my treatments; each massage or reflexology session, in particular, is a unique, ritual massage, combined with energy work and the power of the central nervous system to relax and calm the mind, body and spirit.

And you can use these techniques in self-massage. The practise needs to be carried out with intention, breathing deeply, and slowly as you work. Make it a deeply ritual and meaningful experience so you can satisfy your mind, body and soul wisely, and address the emotional aspect of your wellbeing at the same time.

Visit my website for more help with meditation, self-care techniques and stretches you can try at home as part of your self-care routine.

A massage is just like a movie, really relaxing and a total escape. Except in massage, you’re the star, and you don’t miss anything by falling asleep.

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