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By Alex MacPhee, RMT

While we are all unable to seek professional healthcare treatment for our aches and pains, I have created an at-home self-massage regime to help you implement easy-to-do techniques yourself. While self-massage is not necessarily as effective as receiving a professional massage, it can aid in relieving stress, muscle pain, and tension while we are all abiding by social distancing measures and staying home.

To begin, it is important that you apply an effective amount of pressure where it feels uncomfortable, but is not unbearable. It is also important to remember to soothe your muscles with a hot bath or shower if you feel sore afterward. Another tip is that these massage techniques can be applied all over your body and not just in the areas I am showing. Let’s begin!

Relief of Headaches and/or Jaw Pain

1) For Relief of Headaches and/or Jaw Pain:

    • Begin by placing both your index and middle fingers on your temples and start by doing circular motions moving along the sides and top of your head.
    • Then, continue down to do the same motion along your jaw and cheekbones to help reduce any built-up tension in your jaw.
    • While applying pressure around your jaw, you can slowly open your mouth all the way to induce a stretch at the same time.
    • Be careful not to apply too much pressure and you may use some lotion to create less friction and pull on your skin.
    • By moving the points of contact on your temples and jaw, you should be able to work on as many as 12-15 unique areas, taking you about 2-3 minutes in total.
Woman rolling spiked ball under her feet in physical therapy

2) To Release The Intrinsic Muscles of the Foot:

    • Begin by placing a ball under your foot. You may do this one while seated or do it standing for deeper pressure.
    • You may start by using a tennis ball, but you will likely want to progress to using a harder ball, such as a lacrosse or street hockey ball to provide better depth and pressure.
    • Roll the ball back and forth specifically targeting the arch of your foot. Try to avoid too much pressure directly over the heel bone or forefoot at the base of your toes.
    • This technique is especially beneficial if you’re a runner or suffer from plantar fasciitis. You may also use a golf ball to get a more targeted outcome.
    • After you roll for about 2-3 minutes, stretch the arch of your foot by pulling all 5 toes back with your hands. You can do all 5 toes at the same time or individually to achieve a greater amount of relative movement between the muscles and tendons that control toe motion.
Man using a foam roller to massage his back

3) Improving Your Low Back Mobility:

    • As many of us have begun sitting and lying down more, we have begun experiencing some low back tension and pain.
    • There are two ways you can accomplish this technique to release the muscles of your lower back – by using a foam roller across the entire lower back or by using a ball (lacrosse, street hockey) to roll the tissues on either side of the spine.
    • Begin by placing either the roller or ball between your lower back and the floor and start moving your body up and down. If using a ball, you can also move side to side and in circular motions, being sure to not put direct pressure on your spine or pelvic bone. Controlling how much bodyweight you allow to relax on top of the roller/ball by using your arms and one foot to resist gravity.
    • You may also use a ball to alleviate tension in your buttocks while performing the same motions. Make sure that the thigh and leg that corresponds to the buttocks that are being rolled out remain flat and relaxed on the floor.
Be creative with your rolling and take advantage of the changes you’ve created in the tissues by following your rolling with exercise, static stretching, or both!