Some of the earliest records of therapeutic massage are found in countries like Sweden, China, Mexico, and Hungary from around 4,500 years ago. With such a prevalence through history, it’s clear that therapeutic massage offers benefits to the body and mind. In addition to being incredibly relaxing, the art of massage encourages the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the area you are targeting. This helps relieve pain, increase mobility, and promote healing in the area. Over the years, research has been studied and found to have several other benefits as well. Regular massage lowers blood pressure, boosts immune system health, and is beneficial for many diseases including skin conditions like dermatitis, immune conditions like breast cancer and HIV, age-related conditions like Parkinson’s and dementia, and even depression. Of course, there are relaxation and pain relief benefits for the average person, too!
These at home massage you can do will change your life. You’ll notice pain relief, better sleep patterns, improved mood, increased immune system health, and might even find relief from what ails you. Below, we’ll break down each type of massage that you can do at home and provide some tips and instructions. We’ll also discuss some of the benefits of each type of massage. Keep in mind that massage isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. As you move your hands along the body, some areas will be tenser than others. Spending a little extra time massaging these tense areas will help them relax. In addition to using these techniques for massage, certain essential oils or aromatic lotions used during massage can offer extra benefits. Now, let’s get into how you can do some at home massages that will change your life.
Neck massage works best when paired with accupressure. Accupressure involves putting pressure on specific areas of the neck, usually areas where there is a lot of tension. Start massaging the neck by using the palms of your hands to move in a downward motion from the sides of the neck and down the shoulders. Apply pressure to the area around your shoulder blades like shown in the diagram. Then, work using small circles to move from the base of your skull down toward your shoulder blades. Use your thumbs to apply pressure in an upward motion as you work at the base of the neck, repeating this motion several times. Then, work the sides as you tilt your head to one side, then the other. Finally, palm over the area again and give one tight squeeze.
The obvious benefit of neck massage is relief of tension and short-term pain. Many people suffer from neck pain, especially since poor posture, repetitive movements at work, sitting at a desk, and looking down at a phone screen are all risk factors. However, researchers at Leed University published a study showing the link between neck massage and a lower risk of conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure. When the neck is stiff and tense, it prevents important signals that manage heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure from getting to the brain. Massaging the neck relaxes muscles so signals move easier. Additionally, neck massage improves circulation to bring oxygen and nutrients to the brain. This helps wake you up and can even relieve the pain of headaches. Regular neck massage also improves flexibility, reduces the risk of future strains, and even activates the lymphatic system.
You’ll want to start facial massage by washing your hands and face, since any bacteria or oils could get into your pores as you open up. Start by massaging your lymph area, which includes the sides of the neck and under the ears using large circles. This activates the lymphatic system and promotes drainage. Then, massage the forehead to smooth wrinkles by pressing gently upward from the brow line toward your hairline. Be sure to use firm pressure, but don’t pull too hard at the skin. Additionally, move outward and upward instead of down since rubbing downward promotes wrinkles. For the eyes, use a finger or two and gently move outward toward the ears. Finally, you’ll use light, gentle strokes in a downward motion as you work your way across the cheekbones and then down toward your jawline and neck.
Massaging your face has benefits for your lymphatic system and skin. As you massage the lymphs, it promotes movement in the lymphatic system that helps remove toxins from your body. Additionally, the rubbing motion stimulates the skin cells and encourages the flow of blood and nutrients to the skin. This helps renew skin cells for fresher, better looking skin and makes the skin plumper, reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Over time, it even helps tone facial muscles too. Facial massage also opens your skin layers up and makes it easier to absorb products, including any serum or moisturizer your use for massage and foundation, which penetrates the skin deeper after massage. If you do use moisturizer or serum, be sure to use something non-comedogenic. Non-comedogenic products are breathable instead of oily, so they don’t clog the pores and make acne worse.
Begin with massaging the hand and forearm, moving in motions from the elbow and keeping your palm flat as you work down the hand. Then, flip the hand over and moisturize the other side. Next, open the palm and massage with your thumb, making small circles as you work from the middle and out toward the sides of the palm. Next, turn the hand over and massage two fingers at once, pushing them together and moving from base to tip. Then, use both thumbs to massage the back of the hand, using small, gentle strokes and moving toward the heart. Manipulate the fingers by making small circles with each of them, then engage the wrist by turning it from left to right while holding their hand. Finally, use soft, relaxing movements toward the heart to wrap up the massage.
You should use a moisturizer rich in Vitamin E or other beneficial nutrients while massaging, since the hands are one of the areas that show the greatest signs of aging over the years. This is likely from sun exposure and the fact that people don’t always apply protection to their hands. Hand massage has general benefits for pain and relaxation. There was also a study published in 2011 that shows benefits for patients with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and neuropathy. Hand massage was shown to relieve pain and had additional benefits including increased mobility and range of motion and improved sleep patterns, while reducing depression and anxiety. Additionally, hand massage increases the absorption of topical creams to increase their benefits.
The best way to begin a massage is by having the person you are massaging sit backwards in a kitchen chair, so they can place their arms on the back of the chair for support. As you massage, be sure to focus on muscle groups rather than applying pressure to the spine or other bones you feel. Use the three fingers in the middle of your hand to make small circles as you work from the hairline, down the sides of the neck, and down the tops of the shoulders to warm them up. Then, place your palms on either side of the shoulder and use your thumbs to stroke the sides of the neck. Move from the neck down to the shoulder blades, using small circles to feel for tension as you go. You can also use your palms to manipulate the muscles, especially when you’re working closer to the spine.
While neck and shoulder massage can be completed in just five minutes, it’s okay for it to take longer. You should also feel for areas of tension. If you feel any, position your fingers on the front of the shoulder for support and use the thumb to work around the knots. The neck and shoulders are responsible for a lot of things we do and repetitive movements and bad posture both take a toll on their health. Massage is relaxing and promotes the flow of blood and nutrients to the area. Additionally, massage removes physical knots and areas of tension that impede the flow of the lymphatic and circulatory systems. In this way, an at home neck and shoulder massage can boost your immune system and encourage healing, too. There’s even research that supports using neck massage to relieve the pain of headaches and migraines.
Have the person you are massaging lay face down. Start at their lower back and place your hands on either side of their spine, gently gliding up as you apply pressure and then back down. Then, use both your hands to pinch the skin as you massage, focusing first one side of the back and then the other. Next, your going to manipulate the spine by applying pressure with both thumbs as the person you are massaging breathes outward in a downward motion, and upward as they breathe in. Target the sides next, using the fingertips on both hands to pull from the side and toward the spine. As you massage, feel free to focus a little more attention on areas that seem tense. Finish the massage by putting hands on either side of their spine and moving up it like you did at the beginning of the massage.
Something to keep in mind is that the spine is sensitive. You should avoiding putting too much pressure on it and keep in mind that massage should never be especially painful. When it is painful, it’s best that someone sees a professional since applying too much pressure can make the underlying problem worse. Upper back massage is especially beneficial for soreness and inflammation. It also helps relieve tension and promote relaxation, which is important since many people hold so much tension in this area. Additionally, as your warm hands work the area, the friction causes heat in the muscles that encourages blood flow to the area and increases the elasticity of tissues. This promotes healing and helps reduce tension and muscle strains in the future.
One of the major benefits of foot massage is that it’s one of the easiest at home massages to perform on yourself. You should use firm pressure as you work on the feet, especially the bottom of them where skin is a little tougher. Start by working on the area around the ball of the foot, applying firm pressure. If your fingertips aren’t strong enough, you can use the knuckles on your hand instead. Then, apply pressure to the bottom of the big toe and walk your fingers down the big toe, and across the top of your foot just below all your toes as you apply firm pressure. Next, use an up-and-down movement to focus on the arch of the foot before moving to the heel. After focusing on the heel, give a little attention to the top of your foot to promote blood flow to the area.
Foot massage is incredibly relaxing, especially for people who spend a lot of time on their feet. It also relieves tension in the area and promotes better circulation, which can be helpful for people who have diabetes or heart disease because of its effect on circulation. Another major benefit of giving your feet a little extra attention is that it gives you a chance to look at bunions and your feet, as well as how your toenails look. Monitoring your toenails actually tells you a lot about your overall health. For example, bluish toenails could be caused by Raynaud’s disease or poor circulation from diabetes, while yellow toenails might result from using nail polish too frequently or growing fungus fungus. Banding across your toenails can also let you know if you have a vitamin deficiency.
Head massage is another at home massage with benefits that you can perform on yourself. Start by using the pads of your fingers, as you would while applying shampoo. Massage the scalp using small circles. Then, separate the hair into large sections and gently tug on it to stimulate the scalp and the hair follicles. Next, you’ll use your thumbs to pull up starting above the eyebrows and moving up the forehead and back into the scalp before using the thumbs to stroke across the forehead to the sides of your head. Once you’re done massaging, gently cup your hands under the neck and stretch by gently lifting their head from the bed. If their neck doesn’t move easily, skip this step. Finally, use your fingers to put pressure on the hollows at the base of the skull and gently massage.
Many people are surprised to learn that massaging their head gives real benefits for the brain, too. Head massage targets the small muscles around your head that are responsible for sending and receiving messages in the brain. When these muscles are tense, it makes it harder for your brain to send out and intercept these signals. Furthermore, head massage encourages circulation to the scalp and brain. As blood flows toward your head, the oxygen and nutrients available to the head increases and makes the brain more alert, increasing memory and attention span. Scalp massage has also been proven to boost relaxation, relieve tension, and even encourage hair growth. Since you are working so close to the nose, aromatherapy used in addition to head massage offers additional benefits.
This lower back massage is something you can easily do at home without any help. All you’ll need is a tennis ball and a wall (or the floor). Place the tennis ball on the floor and lie on top of it, positioning it near your lower back. Alternatively, use a wall and position the ball between your lower back and the wall. Move your body slowly up and down and side to side, paying attention to how it feels when the ball massages certain areas. You should be squishing the ball a little, but you shouldn’t press so hard that it’s painful. Use the ball to target any sore muscles and apply pressure. Alternatively, rub the lower back with your thumbs, using small circles around the divots near the base of the spine and the group of muscles there.
The major benefit of lower back massage is that it relieves tension and increases the temperature of your muscles. As the temperature of your muscles rise, it makes the tissue in the surrounding area more elastic. The joints also become more flexible, letting you manipulate the muscles, boosting circulation and relieving pain and inflammation. Stretching and lower back massage is also one of the best ways to improve lower back injuries or strains, especially when used together. They improve flexibility and also build up the muscles around the spine. Strength in these muscles is important because they support the spine and help keep your body erect. Additionally, both these benefits reduce the risk of injuries or strains in the future and they can even relieve chronic back pain.
You’ll want to use your fingertips for this unless you have longer nails- then you can use the knuckles instead. For each of these steps, repeat about 10 times on each eye. Start with the index fingers and press on the indented area near the corner of your eye. Then, invert your thumbs like in the diagram and press on the sunken area below the eyebrows. Move to the outer corners of the eye next, applying pressure about a centimeter away from the outer-most corner. Then, press the sunken point beneath the eyeball and near the socket with your index finger. Finally, you’ll place the middle and ring fingers on your upper and lower parts of the eyes, gently moving your fingers over your skin and toward your temples.
When performing eye massage, it’s important to use gentle pressure. The skin around the eyes is thin, particularly the eyelids and the under-eye area. However, eye massage does offer many benefits. This massage targets accupressure points that promote good blood flow to the area. As blood flow increases, so does the flow of oxygen and nutrients that promote skin health and help reduce puffiness. Massage also opens the pores and helps it absorb better, so using a nourishing serum after massage helps all the ingredients that are good for your skin penetrate deeply. Research also shows that in addition to brightening the eyes, engaging these pressure points helps with eye twitching, relieves tension, and can even benefit people with vision problems and glaucoma because of the way massage relieves pressure.
Abdominal massage is something that can be done by a professional, but it works best as a nightly routine before you go to bed. Lie on your back and prop your knees up, using 2-3 pillows for support under them if you need to. Start by applying pressure in a circular motion, working outward and starting at the belly button. Make about five circles around, getting bigger with each one. Then, repeat this moving in the opposition direction. Next, use a stroking motion to move up from the pelvic bone toward the belly button about four times, then the leg crease to the belly button. After this, you’re going to use a flat palm to shake areas of skin, including the abdomen, thighs, and leg crease. Finish by making small circles around the belly button, moving from right to left two times. You should do this every night to get the most benefit.
The obvious benefit of abdominal massage is the way that it benefits the digestive tract. Improving digestive health keeps things flowing regularly, prevents bloating, and even increases how well your body absorbs nutrients from the foods you eat. Additionally, abdominal massage promotes blood flow to all the organs located in the stomach as well. This stimulates organs like the spleen, kidneys, and liver, aiding in the removal of toxins from the body. Furthermore, since research has shown that gut health plays such a big role in mental health and overall well-being, abdominal massage offers benefits for the mind that go beyond basic relaxation as well. Some researchers say that massaging this area might also help with toning the muscles and weight loss, however, that hasn’t been proven by any concrete scientific studies just yet.
Often, elbow massage starts with a hand massage to stimulate the muscles and make it feel relaxed. After you’ve finished the hand massage mentioned above, use one hand to hold the wrist and the other to cup the elbow. As you cup the elbow, make a circular motion and massage it. Repeat this at least three times. Then, stroke down the arm using a firm grip, working from elbow to wrist. With each stroke downward, you’re going to continue down the hand and stroke each finger. Finish by gently squeezing the finger you are working on before repeating the movements. You’ll want to use a lotion or massage oil for this type of massage, especially if you’re performing it on someone that has a little more hair on their arms. It can be painful if you pull at it.
The biggest benefits of elbow massage are for people that have tennis elbow or elbow strains. With tennis elbow, flare-ups are often caused by toxins triggering inflammation in the area. Elbow massage relieves pain by releasing these toxins so they can be removed by the lymphatic system and filtered out of the body. It also offers benefits for the tissue and muscle in the area. As massage encourages blood flow, it also brings the oxygen and nutrients needed to promote healing. Furthermore, massage increases flexibility and range of motion so the joints and tissues in the elbow bend easier. This is important, especially since people often need use of their arms in their day-to-day lives. Deep tissue massage that targets the tendons and muscles rather than promoting relaxation is best for this type of injury/condition, so don’t be afraid to use pressure while you’re massaging.
Hip massage is another type of at home massages you can do yourself. The goal with hip massage is to engage the tendons underneath the skin, helping them support the skin better and re-distribute the fat. This gives a firmer, better appearance. To massage the hips, start at the waist-hip curve and apply pressure in a curving motion. You’ll move from the waist, across the buttocks and down toward the hips. Then, engage the leg-thigh curve. You’ll want to push in an upward motion instead of downward, moving against gravity. You’ll do this by applying pressure from the back of the thighs and up toward the hips and buttocks. Work over each of these areas several times. You’ll want to do this every day to help build up the muscle and redistribute the fat on a more permanent basis.
Hip massage helps re-distribute fat because you’re targeting it with the way you move your hands. Fat sits below the the skin, under the dermis and epidermis layers. The thighs, buttocks, hips, and stomach are all high-fat areas on the body. As you smooth these out, it helps redistribute weight and give skin a smoother appearance. By improving blood flow to the area, massage also makes skin appear firmer and plumper. Hip massage also promotes flexibility in the hips to reduce the risk of injury. Additionally, while the jury is still out on massage for weight loss, massage does support a lot of things that make it easier to lose weight. For example, massage promotes better mental health and sleep patterns, which make it easier to live a healthy lifestyle and stay motivated. It also helps relieve pain after a workout, which can help your muscles recover and become stronger.