Heal Yourself! 17 Tricks for a Soothing Self-Massage

Massages can relax your muscles, relieve stress, and boost your energy, but you don’t need a professional masseuse to reap its benefits.

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Self-massage: Use a tennis ball to relieve tension

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For tense feet, place the arch of your foot on a tennis ball (or golf ball if that seems too big), leaning one hand against a wall for support. Gradually put more body weight on the foot as the ball presses into your arch. Slowly move your foot around to target your heel, forefoot and toes. A tennis ball can also relieve tight hips. Sit on the ball, then wiggle your backside around and hold it still on areas that feel especially good. Plus, you can use a tennis ball to reach the space between your shoulder blades or in your lower back. Lie on the floor with the ball under spots that are hard to reach with your hands. Here's more about the health benefits of massage, and here are more brilliant ways to use tennis balls.

Self-massage: Give your neck a break

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Every hour, give your body some relief from hunching over your computer at work. Clasp your hands together behind your neck, and apply pressure to each side of your spinal cord with the bottom of your palms. Rub up and down slowly. Then press into the trapezius muscle along the left side of your neck just under the base of your skull using the fingers on your right hand. Tilt your head to the left, then rub in downward motions, working your way to your shoulder. Repeat three times, then switch sides. The front of your neck can also get tight while you work, so finish by stretching it out. Lay your head back to allow the top of your chair to press into your neck, just below the skull, and hold it there for 20 seconds. These are other ways to recover from sitting too much.

Self-massage: Hammer out kinks twice a day

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Starting with your legs and arms, gently thump your body from top to bottom with your fists. Then pummel your torso from bottom to top. Using this technique in the morning will wake up your body and mind, while doing it in the evening beats out tension and stress, leaving your mind calm. One caveat: Avoid using this technique if you’re on a blood thinner or you could end up with bruises.

Self-massage: Massage your calves after wearing heels

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Walking in heels all day can shorten your calf muscles over time, so give them some release with a good rubdown. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and then clench your ankle with your thumb placed just over the Achilles tendon. Moving an inch at a time, work your way up your calf, adding pressure and releasing until you reach your knee. Repeat on the other leg.

Self-massage: Rub your belly after eating

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Help stimulate digestion by rubbing your tummy after a meal. Using one or both palms, rub your abdomen in clockwise circles—the same direction that your food moves through your intestine. Here are more home remedies for an upset stomach.

Self-massage: Massage yourself pre- and post-workout

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Massages increase blood flow to your muscles, which can be helpful before cardio, strength training, or stretches. Thump your legs and arms with your fists before exercising to encourage blood flow to those areas. A post-workout rubdown can help speed muscle recovery. Using your fist or palm, rub your muscles toward your heart after a sweat session to reap the benefits.

Self-massage: Give tired eyes some heat therapy

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Staring at a screen all day can leave your eyes tired and strained, but a little heat can help them relax. Quickly rub your hands together until the palms start to heat up, then cup one hand over each eye to let the warmth soothe them.

Self-massage: Massage your hands when you put lotion on

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Clasp your fingers together and rub the bottoms of your palms together in a circular motion to target the bottom of your palms. Without unclasping your hands, use your thumb to rub the area under the thumb of the opposite hand. Work outward in circular motions toward the center of your palm, then repeat on the other hand. Pull your hands apart and knead your wrists, palms, and the area between your fingers with your thumbs and index fingers. Gently tug each finger one by one, and finish by pinching the webbing between each finger.

Self-massage: Make a heating pad for a soothing massage

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Fill a tube sock three-quarters full with uncooked rice. Secure the opening with a rubber band and then pop the sock in the microwave for 2 minutes. Once it’s warm, rub the sock up and down your legs for a relaxing hot massage. Better yet, add 2 cinnamon sticks and 1 tablespoon cloves for an aromatic experience. You can save the sock for future use until the spices lose their scent. These are other ways you never realized you could use your microwave.

Self-massage: Ease tired feet

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Sit down on a couch or chair and lace the fingers of one of your hands through the toes of one foot. Spread your toes out, and use your palm to rotate the joints of your forefoot forward and back for a minute. Take your hand away from your toes and then hold your ankle with one hand, using your other hand to rotate your foot gently clockwise. Start with small circles and gradually work up to larger circles as your ankle warms up. Switch to counterclockwise circles and then repeat the process with your other foot.

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