Before you flip to another post because you are thinking \”why do I need to know this\”, give me a chance! You\’ve been giving yourself massage all along even if you didn\’t know it. I\’m sure you can recall at least once where you have reached up and rubbed your temple or shoulder to relieve a headache or a tight knot in your shoulder . You have also been at the receiving end of a touch that started in infancy where you Mother caressed you to sooth your stomach ache or soothe you to sleep. If you weren\’t lucky enough to receive loving touch as an infant all the more reason for you to get comfortable doing it to yourself.
Self Massage gives us all the benefits that getting a massage give us.
It softens and lengthens tight muscles, increasing joint space so we can literally decompress and restore range of motion to our joints, increases circulation with blood flow to enhance waste removal through our lymphatic system and increase oxygen stores to our tissues.
It encourages relaxation so that a normal breathing cycle can emerge. It\’s an opportunity for us to quiet our sympathetic nervous system and welcome the work that our parasympathetic nervous system was designed to do. While we quiet the mind we will be able to quiet the excessive muscular activity we often misuse for stability and mobility in our hyper-stimulated daily situations and activities.
Massage therapists are trained to give massage, but they are also schooled in receiving the information bodies give back to them. Their hands can tell if tissue is tight or spasmed, or long, released and springy!
By learning self massage, you multiply the sensory loops in which you give yourself information. Via touch and receiving the touch. You are having a conversation with yourself, as you supply yourself the answers. The sensory feedback is supplied by the skin, muscles, bones, fascia, circulatory, lymphatic, central and peripheral nervous systems. While you may not understand all the science associated with this complex sensory landscape, do know, that your touch can profoundly affect these systems.
Outside of a clinical situation, or doing cadaver work, it is one of the best tools (as well as movement) for developing a somatic self-awareness.
1. Develop proprioception. Yes, proprioception is our sense of self in space. Some reports state that 75% of our propriocepters are in our feet and lower limb. It makes sense to release soft tissue, increase blood flow, restore mobility to our ankles and strengthen out feet. Hard to make sense of it if you don\’t know about your heel bone feels before you bear weight on it.
2. Develop a 3 dimensional sense of self. Many of us have a self-limiting idea of our own anatomy that we learned early in our lives. Experiencing a side, front and back body with all its complexities and densities will enhance your physical literacy.
3. Release soft tissue to eliminate pain and move more efficiently. While self massage and getting a massage are beneficial, they both are a means to an end. That of restoring effortless organization in our body and pain-free movement.
Sit back in your chair and cross one leg over the other, so you can see the bottom of the foot of the leg you are crossing. Make a fist and start to knead or rake the bottom of your foot. Dividing the sole of your foot into 3 sections, start at the big toe and go all the way to the heel, then the middle of your sole, then the pinkie to side. Try going horizontally across the ball of your foot and the areas in between the pad of your toes and the ball. Moving horizontally again, go to your heel and and knead that area.
Grab your heel with your whole hand and gently twist back and forth like you were trying to open a drawer or unscrew something.
One hand on the top of your foot, one on the bottom and rub back and forth, the same motion you would use if you were rubbing your hands back and forth in anticipation of something.
Uncross you legs and put your foot under your knee, how\’s it feel? Walk around and feel the difference. Is your other foot jealous? Repeat on the other side, now go take a walk.