Self Massage Techniques

Massage At Your Fingertips will teach you massage techniques you will be able to treat your body quickly and easily. Take a few minutes and familiarize yourself with the techniques below and you will unlock the key to the most basic and essential self care!

Compression

Compression is one of our favorites. We use it most often when starting a massage and in chair massage. It is composed of squeezing and leaning simultaneously with your palms.

Cup your hands and press against the muscle as you lightly squeeze in a rhythmic motion. Move back and forth slowly to let go of tightness and pain as you move along the area. Use one or both hands. To visualize the technique think of a cat kneading. The best place to utilize compression on oneself is the arms, shoulders, quads, thighs and calves. Compressing while moving a joint into their natural range of motion is a great way to relieve pain and stiffness.

Benefits: Compression is extremely beneficial and gives long lasting results. It helps loosen tight muscles, brings blood and oxygen to the area and, removes toxins. Always remember that after compressing a tight or restricted area it is normal to feel a bit sore. Never compress so hard that you feel extreme pain. If you feel pain that is intense (not the ‘good kind of pain’) then stop and ice massage.

If you are experiencing Edema (swelling) it is always a good idea to ask your doctor about wearing compression socks or stockings. Your doctor might recommend them depending on how severe you’re retaining fluid or if you have a pre-existing medical condition such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (varicose veins). When flying for more that a couple of hours, wearing compressions flight socks or stockings is a great idea to keep circulation flowing. For additional flying tips visit Flying Tips & tools.

 

Cross Fiber Friction

 

Cross Fiber Friction is a manual technique developed by Dr. James Cyriax for the treatment of soft tissue injuries. This technique breaks down and reduces knots and lesions which form during injuries, such as tears, breaks or sprains. When Cross Fiber Friction is utilized on the injured joint, ligament or tendon it assists the body in forming strong flexible tissue.

The Video below demonstrates Cross Fiber Friction to the Ankle.

The way to administer the technique is to begin by using very little oil or lotion if any. Now, I understand the average person might not be able to feel the fiber grains direction, however, when you touch an area that is injured you might be able to follow the knot or adhesion in a certain

Never apply Cross Fiber Friction if the area is newly injured, red, swollen or very painful. Also, be sure to ask your doctor before beginning any massage technique on yourself. If your injury or scar tissue is old then begin lightly and follow your pain threshold. Take it slow and work  a  few minutes at a time. You can increase the time each day and follow with ice to lesson inflammation and soreness.

Conditions such as tennis elbow, bicep tendonitis, ankle sprains, and tendonitis of the knee respond very well to the friction therapy as the pain lives in the tendons and ligaments, not the muscles. I work on my own ankles to break down old sprained ankle scar tissue. Although it can make me somewhat sore, I attain full mobility in my ankles  and my entire leg is looser all the way to my hip.

If you still can’t grasp this technique don’t worry it takes practice. It’s as if you are lightly rubbing your skin back and forth on a straight line. Then change direction and rub up and down again.

Trigger Point Massage

This massage technique is named after Trigger Points. Trigger Points are muscle knots or  nodules that are formed by muscle overuse or injury. When you have a spot that feels painful to touch, that is most likely a Trigger Point.

These knots can also cause referral pain, otherwise know as pain in an area further away from the actual knot. If you press on a Trigger Point on your shoulder, you may feel referral pain in your neck or down your arm.

Trigger Points are almost always a tiny piece of muscle tissue in spasm. When you have many spasms in one area it is referred to as Myofascial Pain. These are also common in the jaw and often mimics TMJ (Temporal Mandibular Joint Disorder). Some times these knots get mistaken for other ailments. Clients often complain of pain in the groin, stomach, hip, back or ankle. Once we check and find Trigger Points and release them, the client finds instant relief.

How-To: The way to relieve Trigger Points is to begin pressure in the exact area of pain and knead slowly and precisely. If it is too painful then start with mini massage sessions and do as many as you can handle in a day. You can also apply heat to the are before massaging and then ice after your are done with the massage. This will bring blood flow back and forth to the area and relieve pain. The way to know if it has released is if you feel less pain as time goes on. You can use your thumb, knuckles, elbow or any tools available for those hard to reach areas. Check out the effective tools to help breakdown Trigger Points below.

The X is the Trigger Point and the red area pain referred by the Trigger Point.


One of our favorite books on Trigger Point therapy is The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, Second Edition. This book is a easy to use guide to understanding and treating your trigger points.

The Neck King – Hands-free Trigger Point Self Massage Tool for the Neck and Back (Blue) is an effective tool in treating trigger points, especially in the neck and back.

 

 

 

Skin Rolling aka Myofascial Release

The art of Skin Rolling is also called Myofascial Release. It’s an amazing technique used to release adhered knots and to detach connective tissue from the muscles lying underneath the skin. The Superficial Fascia is our body stocking. It is a thin layer of tissue which wraps around each muscle and organ throughout our bodies. When the fascia gets stuck or wrinkles, the muscles are prevented from doing their work in conjunction with other muscles that help. When muscles, tendons and ligaments are tight or trapped because of knots, the area that is stressed or injured will hold in a pattern bringing the surrounding body limited movement with aches and pains. By Skin Rolling the fascia you are metaphorically ironing out theses wrinkles and allowing our fabric to fall freely. This allows the team of soft tissues to achieve movement without pain.

The video below demonstrates Skin Rolling for shin splints.

 

This technique may be uncomfortable at first and this is normal. When dealing any area of pain and restriction your pain receptors are on high alert. It takes time for them to calm and realize that they can let go- this is when real change and healing begins. We realize that the thought of pinching or lifting your skin might sound painful and depending on the state of the muscle it will be at times. However, the end result will lessen the contractures and relieve the underlying pain, while freeing up the muscle and allowing discomfort-free movement. What I love about Skin Rolling is that anyone can do it on themselves and when done often it will not only bring blood circulation to the area but will help free yourself of hurtful muscle restrictions.

Another great reason to utilize Skin Rolling is to can reduce the visibility of scars. Of course you must be careful that your scars are completely healed and you must treat the area with caution as to not cause undue pain. The technique is quite easy. As you see in the photo above lift your fascia with your fingers and literally roll the fascia along under your fingers, moving any desired direction. Do not over pinch the skin. Try a lighter lift with a slight pinch and roll the fascia under your fingertips. You will get better with practice and notice that depending on where you work on your body you will use different amounts of force. If you cannot Skin Roll a very tight area, begin massaging or compressing the area to loosen the fascia first. Do not pinch the skin as you will only achieve painful bruising.

You can Skin Roll your forearms for hand and wrist pain, carpal tunnel, tennis elbow or just plain old tendonitis. We both practice this art on our upper arms (deltoids), elbows, palms and spine to reduce tension from our busy massage schedules. It really works well on shin splints, too. If you find this procedure makes you sore, make sure to apply a few minutes of ice massage afterwards. The picture to the left demonstrates Skin Rolling on your Quadriceps (Thigh muscles). This is an effective way not only to relieve leg and hip pain and can also be applied to the low back, and any other area you can reach.

If you would like a more in depth tutorial Beginning Myofascial Release DVD is a great resource to learn Myofascial Release and Skin Rolling techniques.  This DVD demonstrates skin rolling on another person, but the same techniques can just as easily be done on yourself.  If you are finding areas difficult to reach on your own have a family member or friend learn how to use this technique on you.

 

 

 

 

 

Foot Massage and Reflexology

 

Reflexology is the ancient practice of applying pressure to specific areas of the feet , hands and ears that correspond to organs, glands and systems of our bodies to encourage balance and homeostasis within ourselves.  You don’t have to be a professional to become acquainted with Reflexology.

A quick study of the Reflexology Chart  will help you find great points on your feet to release pain and restrictions throughout your body.

For those folks who are ticklish or prefer not to have their bare feet rubbed, wear socks. With socks you can compress and use your thumbs to knead the feet. On bare skin a nice refreshing lotion (one with mint or arnica if not allergic) will help your fingers slide and move along the the souls, arches and toes.

Self Foot Massage is great for relieving pain and very easy to do. Check out the video below and see how easy it is to release the the top of the foot (the interosseous muscles) and relieve your pain in minutes.

Another great and easy way to reach the deeper points in the feet are by rolling a Trigger Point Performance TP-Factor Extra-Firm Massage Ball, tennis ball, golf ball under each foot. This is extremely beneficial for people who suffer from Plantar Fasciitis.It helps if you wear socks for traction and gives you better control of the ball. You may choose to sit or stand when rolling. It’s amazing how lighter your feet will feel.

Below are additional resources and our favorite picks for self-massage books and tutorials. Reflexology and foot massage is a valuable skill to have in your self-care tool box to treat your own pain as well as your loved ones!

Books

 

Foot Reflexology: A Visual Guide For Self-Treatment is a  great self foot massage tutorial book. It has beautiful visuals to make learning fast and easy. This book also provides a clear understanding on how the zones of the foot correspond to the areas of our body and how to work on them.  Click on the link above fore more information.

Reflexology: Health at your fingertips  is a beautiful book full of pictures and techniques that make it easy to learn how to give yourself and others reflexology.  What makes this book unique is the quick reference section of health conditions, their target treatment areas and a picture guide of treatment techniques.  Click on the link above for more information.

 

If you are look for an in depth study of  Reflexology then Better Health with Foot Reflexology  is an amazing book by Dwight C. Byers. He is the nephew of the legendary Eunice Ingham, a physical therapist who helped bring the effectiveness of reflex zone therapy into the main stream in the 1930’s. His personal experience and extensive knowledge of nearly sixty years of practical and teaching experience provide an amazing study of Reflexology and its healing benefits. Click the link above for more information.

Self- Care Tools

Acupressure Mat with Magnets Pyramids for Pain Relief and Total Health Size 12×12.5 Inches is a great tool for relieving tired, aching feet. Super easy to use- slip off your shoes and stand on the mat for a few minutes a day. If you are sensitive to pressure wear socks for the first few times to get use to the rubber spikes and work up to bare feet. The spikes on the mat stimulate acupressure points on the feet to increase circulation.

Yamuna Body Rolling Foot Wakers and DVD is an amazing program to help you understand how to treat your feet properly. This kit if good for everyone! If your suffering from a specific foot problems or looking for a preventative protocol this is the set you need now! Aliments the Foot Wakers and DVD have helped and cured include: Plantar Fasciitis, Morton Neuroma, Flat Feet, Hammer Toes, and Fallen Arches just to name a few. They are worth the price and you get what you pay for: A durable and effective product that will last.  Begin with the chair routine and work your way up to standing. As always if the pressure seems to intense use socks for the first few sessions.

To help make your foot massage and reflexology experience more fun and exciting, check out Reflexology Socks – Form-Fitting for Foot Massage Therapy. Slip these socks on and get right into massaging. Use the tip of your thump to press into each of the areas on the sock and work your way up and down the foot. These socks also make a unique gift!

 

 

Ice Massage

Ice massage an easy and effective way to treat swelling and acute injury. It’s another way to apply cryotherapy and works faster than waiting for ice packs to cool the area being treated. It helps relieve swelling and painful areas in the body quickly.

For a DIY method: Place a few inches of water in a dixie cup and freeze. Once frozen, tear the cup away until ice is showing and use the remaining part of the cup to hold onto while massaging so your hand does not get cold.

Ice Massage the area in circular motions on the skin. Remember to keep moving so you do not cause the skin to burn. Never fall asleep with ice directly on the skin. You can use ice massage on any area you can reach. Just remember avoid the spine while doing ice massage.

Only 3-5 minutes is needed for effectiveness.  Check out the video below for a visual guide.

 

Our favorite tool for ice massage Pro-Tec Athletics Ice-Up Portable Ice Massager. We always have it on hand in the freezer so when injury, swelling or the accidental bruise strike we will be ready for it!  This is essential for anyone who plays sport, weekend warriors and small children that like to explore.

 

 

The videos below will show you how use ice massage on the low back and the knee to reduce swelling as well as ice massage for bruising.

 

Ice Massage on the Knee
 

 Ice Massage for Bruising

 

Pain Relief for Runners

Many of our clients are runners. We design specific treatment plans for them to address their running issues. Of those receive massage regularly fare best in keeping themselves pain free. Those who wait until they have clocked hundreds of miles before they calling are usually in extreme pain from runner’s knee or plantar fasciitis. Unfortunately those who wait lose out on a lot of running time.

In order to be able to run for a lifetime, one must incorporate a systematic plan to achieve a pain/injury free running schedule. Self massage and stretching keep muscles loose and warmed up. The products below we have picked out will help stretch your achilles, support your ankles, stretch out your hamstrings, support your knees, relieve, shin splint pain, support your arches,  alleviate Ilio Tibial Band issues, correct plantar fasciitis, support and heal groin pain and more.

The tools below have helps our clients address their running pain for years.

 

 

 

 

 

Medi-Dyne The Original Prostretch S00011 and Medi-Dyne Pro Stretch – Pro Stretch Double – adult shoes up to size 13 have been a staple in my life. I’ve often recommended the Pro Stretch to clients and friends alike.   Here is what you can achieve with the Pro Stretch:

  • Rocker boot style maximizes stretching motion; provides gradual, even stretching
  • Heel plate prevents foot from slipping
  • Foot plate ensures proper foot alignment for most effective stretching
  • Mid foot gap allows ProStretch to be used as an ankle strengthening device
  • Rubber strips prevent product from slipping on multiple types of surfaces.

 


Self-Massage for Athletes is a must have for any runner who wants to take control of their bodies and run for years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trigger Point Performance Self Myofascial Release and Deep Tissue Massage Ball
is a great! I used tennis balls to lean against for years. This tool actually engages soft tissue and helps break down trigger points. The Trigger Point Roller is a step up from regular rollers because its grooves really help break down knots. Trigger Point Performance The Grid Revolutionary Foam Roller, Black is an important tool as tights Quads or upper thigh muscles cause leg, hip and back pain. When you release knots and trigger points in this area you will feel and overall good feeling.  Trigger Point Performance Self Myofascial Release and Deep Tissue Massage Quadballer Roller is a great way to open your calves, and relieve conditions such as tendonitis and nerve pain.

Vertical Footballer BannerVertical Grid BannerVertical Quadballer Banner

 

Books for Runners

 

Massaging, Stretching and using the correct tools will keep you loose and pain free. Here are our favorite books to teach you everything the running world has to offer. Most of the books below are about self help techniques regarding common conditions runners have to deal with such as  ITB Syndrome, Plantar Fasciitis, Runners Knee and low back pain. If you self-massage, use Ice and Heat and stretch on a regular basis you will be able to run for many years to come.


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