Swedish Massage For Yourself

What are the benefits of performing Swedish massage on yourself? Aside from the fact that it feels good, Swedish massage has been known to produce measurable biological effects that can decrease anxiety, help lower blood pressure, and boost your immune system.

So, how can you help yourself receive these benefits? It is completely possible to provide yourself Swedish massage techniques on various parts of your body depending upon your personal flexibility level.

With Swedish massage, lotion or oil is optional since you are not working into deeper tissues.

Body Mechanics

Whenever people scoff at my ability to provide 2 hour and longer massages, I just reassure them that it all comes down to body mechanics. This is the same if you are providing massage for yourself or for someone else.

Key Points of Body Mechanics:

  • Make your hand into a tool. To do this, use your other hand to reinforce your work. For example, if you are using your thumb along an area, take your other hand and use the palm to brace your thumb to protect your joints.
  • Do not continuously use your hands to squeeze muscles. Therapists who have made a career out of massage will tell you that their hands would die or fall off if they spent the whole massage squeezing muscles.
  • Use your body weight to apply pressure. The more you lean into your work, the more pressure you can provide.
  • Try to remain even whether you are standing or sitting.
Try Out Different Techniques to See What Works For You

The main types of Swedish massage you will encounter are effleurage, petrisage, and tapotement.
  • Effleurage: This type of technique provides yourself with light, brushing strokes. Think like when you are petting a furbaby. 
  • Petrisage: This technique involves a kneading motion. Similar to when you are working dough.
  • Tapotement: If you enjoy playing bongos, then tapotement is up your alley. Tapotement derives its name from the repeated tapping motions, whether with fingertips, a cupped hand, or the blade of your hand. When done for less than 2 minutes, it can help to wake you up. If you go past 2 minutes, it tends to be more relaxing.
Since all of our bodies are different, you should play with which technique works the best for you. Generally, I like to warm up an area with brisk rubbing (with or without lotion) to bring fresh blood into the space you are working. From there, you can progress to effleurage, then into a petrisage, back out to an effleurage. 

There is no cookie cutter massage for what everyone likes, so if you want to start with tapotement, then go into petrisage, and completely skip effleurage, feel free. This is your massage, so do what you think feels great.

Five Minute Reset Self-Care Massage

Here is a sample of what you can do for yourself with only a five minute break.

First, try to find a nice, quiet space (if possible). Get into a good seated position and start deep, diaphragmatic breathing. Take your left hand and make it look like the hand on a barrel of monkeys toy. Bring your arm across the front of your body and hook your hand over your right upper shoulder. With your head tilted to the left, let your left shoulder and arm start to drop as you allow gravity to pull your hand along your right shoulder.

Repeat this motion along varying levels of your shoulder, up into your neck, and then switch hands and repeat to the other side.

Next comes "squeezing the coconut". (This is actually one of my favorite techniques to do to people's heels during a normal session). Interlink your fingers, tilt your head forward, and loop the palms of your hands over the back of your neck. Start with a gentle squeezing motion, similar to squeezing the juice from an orange, then move up and down along different levels of your neck. 

Moving on to your temples. To protect your hands, take your middle finger and touch the nail of your pointer finger to reinforce it. Take this new tool and provide a gentle swirling motion to your temples. You can do both sides together, or one at a time.

In order to help reenergize yourself, especially if you have to return to work, end with some tapotement. Hold your hand as though you are trying to catch water in it. Take the cupped side, and tap along your shoulder down into your arms, as well as along the top of your legs.

Hopefully this gives you some groundwork to start providing yourself with some Swedish massage either at home, or during breaks on the go!

Corinne D. Bracko-Douglas, CMT, LMT, CKTP is the owner of Dochas Clinical Massage Therapy based out of Columbia, MO. She received her diploma in Clinical Massage Therapy from The Soma Institute in Chicago, IL in 2004. She enjoys teaching others about how to live a healthy lifestyle and still works one on one with clients out of her private clinic. When not working as a therapist she can be found enjoying trail hikes with her wonderful husband, Lee, and their adorable  doggos, Shadow and Koda, or trying out fun new workouts to expand her knowledge of the human body and how it functions.

The advice given in these articles is not meant to diagnose. Please always consult with a health care provider before performing any of the techniques described upon yourself.


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