Self Massage Videos & Articles

During the quarantine, massage therapy is best performed as a self-service! Check out my instructional videos on Instagram (click on the title below to watch the video.)

If you’d like to book a private virtual session, please email me at kiera@meridianmassagenyc.com

Check out my self massage videos  on IGTV:

Self Massage for the Quarantine, Head / Neck / Shoulders

Self Massage for the Quarantine : Chest and Belly

Self Massage for the Quarantine: Legs and Feet

Self Massage for the Quarantine: Using Tools

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I was featured in Good Housekeeping – Wellness  and MEL Magazine explaining about self-massage. I also wrote a blog about self massage, below.

How does massage relieve stress?

Massage relieves stress by working with our nervous systems. The sensory receptors in our skin receive the sensation of touch and communicate with the brain and other nerves to move us from a keyed-up “sympathetic” nervous system state (commonly referred to as “fight or flight”) to a parasympathetic state (sometimes called “rest and digest”.) Studies have shown that massage calms the nervous system, reducing symptoms anxiety and our experiences of muscular tension, and pain. Touch is our first sense to develop as humans, in utero. As soon as we are born, this nervous system coding begins with the oxytocin release we experience through skin to skin contact, nursing, and bonding. This creates a pattern in our brains that simply equates to “touch as comfort”.

How is self-massage specifically relaxing (and different than partner massage)?

I definitely agree that passively receiving massage from another person (especially a skilled massage therapist!) is optimal in comparison to self-massage. However, in our current circumstances, due to social distancing measures, massage therapy as a practice is not safe. We are all probably noticing how touch deprived we are. That has been true of Americans as a culture for some time, but we were still experiencing little moments in our days, a quick handshake, pat on the shoulder, holding someone’s hand. We are now all adjusting to the “next-best thing” in various aspects of our lives in this current situation. Self-massage can still be great, or at least, better than nothing! Why? Because the oxytocin patterning still works when the sensory receptors receive touch, even if that touch is being administered ourselves. Look, anything we do right now that isn’t stress-producing or screen-oriented is a positive right now.

 It may be helpful to think of “self-massage” as simple touch, or a self-care practice. “Massage” may sound too daunting for some folks. It is important to take time for self-care, to focus on our bodies and what they are feeling, and touch can be an important tool we can use for the tuning in process. When I touch my shoulder, what do I feel? When I put my hands on my abdomen and take a deep breath in, what am I feeling? Am I able to take a deeper or slower breath, filling my hands up with my diaphragm as it expands? Do I feel differently after focusing on myself for this period of time?

What are the most relaxing areas on your own body to self-massage? Why? 

 We are somewhat limited by areas that we can reach with our hands, though we can use other tools as well. I think many of us are feeling stress in our head / neck / shoulders / arms/ hands, especially if we are doing a lot of work at computers right now. We can easily use our right hand to grasp the muscular tissues of the left shoulder, or the muscles of our neck on the right side. Working around the neck, shoulders, and face (with clean hands!) can help relieve tension headaches and trigger points. Massaging the chest and abdomen, especially with connection to the breath as described above can help us breathe in a way that relaxes the body, and may help with digestion. Some folks can even reach our own legs and feet, and working those muscles can be helpful if we’ve been sitting a lot (or doing a lot of workout challenges to combat the sitting!) Working the glutes and legs can be helpful to relieve lower back pain as well. We can sit on a tennis ball, or even lean up against a door frame, to apply pressure by using our own body against the surface to create resistance.

Can you explain simple technique or two, and how often is ideal? Please read the steps below, but the videos are even better so you can follow along step by step. 

  • After washing your hands, start by finding a comfortable and supported seated position.
  • Place the one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, and take a few deep breaths in and out.
  • Move the right hand to the left shoulder and just feel the warmth of your hand on the big muscle between your neck and edge of your shoulder.
  • Then squeeze that muscle between your fingers and palm, and release.
  • Repeat several times, changing the pressure as you like. Then change sides and repeat again.
  • Make a fist with your right hand and place your knuckles under the jawbone, under your right ear.
  • Turn your head to the left as you drag your fist towards the back of your neck.
  • Repeat several times, changing the pressure as you like. Then change sides and repeat again.
  • Take your fingertips to the place where your upper and lower jaw bones meet.
  • Use gentle circles in that spot on both sides at the same time, even opening your mouth slightly to relax the jaw.
  • With the side of your thumb, trace down from that point until both thumbs meet at the chin.
  • Repeat several times, changing the pressure as you like.
  • Come back to the starting position, placing the one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, and take a few deep breaths in and out.
  • What do you notice now? Do you feel different?
  • Notice any changes in the pace or pattern of your breathing?
  • Notice any changes in the muscle tissue? Does it feel warmer, looser, or more relaxed?
  • Repeat as often as desired, daily if possible, or every couple of days.