Massages have a multitude of health benefits in addition to that “aahhhh”-inducing effect. However, you don’t have to find a professional to get the boosts of a massage--actually, you don’t have to find anyone!
Just like you can DIY your home decor or a multitude of crafts, you can DIY a massage (BYO oils or lotions optional!).
Self-massage can help relieve pain, including symptoms of osteoarthritis. Researchers had study participants suffering from osteoarthritis (OA) in the knee do 20-minute self-massage therapy sessions, focusing on their quadriceps muscle. The OA patients who did the self-massage felt significantly less OA pain and stiffness.
The benefits can also be mental. In one study, smokers trying to quit were prescribed three daily hand and ear self-massages during their withdrawal symptoms, including cigarette cravings. After one month, the smokers reported feeling less anxious and moody--two common smoking cessation withdrawal symptoms. Not only that, but those who did the self-massages smoked fewer cigarettes each day by the end of the study than those who did not do-self massage.
In a study of adults suffering from wrist and/or hand arthritis, self-massaging every day (paired with a weekly massage done by someone else) resulted in lower levels of anxiety, depression, and physical pain, while also increasing the strength of their grip.
Try massaging all the way down to your toes: Foot massages also have considerable benefits, including boosting your mood while tamping down stress. Also, in one study, researchers found that the immune systems of people who gave themselves foot massages improved over time. (Put that tip in your back pocket for flu season!)
Here are some tips from the Arthritis Foundation, aimed at those with arthritis, but could be helpful to anyone interested in trying some self-massage:
- Start by warming up your muscles by using large, vigorous strokes, then switch to smaller strokes focused on areas you’d like to target. Applying heat before starting your self-massage can also help your muscles relax.
- When you move into the smaller strokes, you can try holding certain points, rubbing back and forth or deeper strokes along the length of your muscle
- Pressure-wise, just be sure that you aren’t pressing hard enough that it hurts
- You can add oil or lotion (scented for an aromatherapy boost as well!) to make the stroking easier.
- If you already visit masseuses regularly, you can also add self-massage between visits to enjoy the benefits longer.
Go ahead, rub on some relaxation. You deserve it.