This week’s topic of alternative medicine is massage. Therapeutic massage looks, according to the evidence to be a realistic and reasonable treatment to relieve some of the symptoms of depression. If nothing else, the very idea of human touch in a therapeutic atmosphere is proven to release those good endorphins, so I recommend we all get a massage regularly.
Now I don’t know about you, but whenever I have asked a significant other for massage, it always leads to something else or comes with strings attached. So I got to thinking, is there a way you can get the benefit of massage, if you get it from yourself? I know it may sound a little crazy, but I think it could be someone what successful if done correctly.
Self Massage for Depression
- Start with your head and work your way down to your toes.
- Pour some massage oil onto your palms, and using flat hands, rub it vigorously into your hair and scalp.
- Use your fingertips to cover your head with small circular movements.
- Gently massage your face and ears, and then your neck.
- Knead your shoulders and vigorously massage your arms, with up-and-down motions. Use circular movements on your elbows and knead your hands and fingers.
- Massage your chest and stomach using large gentle circular motions. Massage your sides and back, if you can reach it without straining.
- Use vigorous up- and-down motions on your legs, with circular movement at your knees and ankles.
- Massage your feet-tops and bottoms-and use your fingers to massage your toes.
Like I said, self massage is never preferred over the therapeutic touch of another human being, particularly a professional, but if you are desperate, why not give yourself a little massage?
Here are some more ideas I found
- Massage your hands every day. Starting with the bottoms of your palms, clasp your fingers together and rub the heels of your palms together in a circular motion. With your hands still clasped, take one thumb and massage the area just below your other thumb in a circular motion – moving outward to the center of the palm. Free up your fingers and use your thumbs and index fingers to knead your palms, wrists, and the webbing between your fingers. Then gently pull each finger for a time. Move on to using your thumb and index finger to pinch the webbing between your other thumb and index finger.
- Feeling tense? Keep a tennis ball around, and “roll with it.” Foot? Stand with one hand on a wall for support and place the arch of one foot on top of the ball. Gradually add more body weight over the foot, allowing the ball to press into your arch. Begin to slowly move your foot, allowing the ball to massage your heel, forefoot, and toes. If the tennis ball seems too big, use a golf ball. And, hey, you can lie on the ball to get at that hard-to-reach spot between your shoulder blades, or to soothe tension in your lower back.
- How ’bout a warm massage? Fill a tube-style athletic sock three-fourths full with uncooked rice, tie off the end tightly with a rubber band, and stick it in the microwave for two minutes. Then rub it up and down your legs and arms for a while. Actually, you can use the rice-sock over and over again – even adding spices for a soothing scent.
- On the hour, take a break from your computer or desk work. Clasp your fingers behind your neck, pressing the heels of your palms into your neck on either side of your spinal column. Move the heels of your hands up and down in slow, deliberate motion. Then place the fingers of your right hand on your trapezius muscle along the left side of your neck just below the base of your skull. Press into that muscle, tilt your head to the left, and rub downward until you reach your shoulder. Repeat three times, then switch sides. Finish by stretching your head back so the top of your chair presses into your neck just below your skull. This also stretches out the front of your neck, which tends to get tight during desk work. Hold for 20 seconds.
- I love this one. Give yourself a bear hug to relax away shoulder tension. Cross your arms over your chest and grab a shoulder with either hand. Squeeze each shoulder and release three times. Then move your hands down your arms, squeezing and releasing until you get to your wrists.
- Headache? Stand up, bend forward from the hips, and place your forehead on a padded chair. The chair will gently place pressure on your head as you relax in the forward bend. Hold about 30 seconds. When you rise, sit down and spread your fingers through your hair, making a fist. Gently pull the hair away from your head. Hold 2-3 seconds, then release. This stretches the fascia along your scalp, releasing tension. Continue to grab different clumps of hair all over your head, working from the top front of your head, progressing to the sides, and then to the back of your head. Once you have grabbed and released your entire scalp, return to work, feeling refreshed (after using water, gel, and hairspray)
Finally, I found these directions for a self massage for insomnia, which is a topic near and dear to my heart this week, as you know!
1. The head: Rub the pains of the hands together until they are hot. Then rub the face with the palms ten to twenty times. Massage the Yintang (Ex-HN3), which is located between the eyebrows, with the tip of the middle finger for thirty times. Then massage the superscalar ridge along the eyebrow and the Taiyang (Ex-HN5) for thirty times, until soreness and distension is felt at the massage point .
2. The ears: Massage the bilateral auricles with the thumb and index finger in a downwards direction for twenty times. (Put the thumb on the back of the auricle, and the index finger on the front.) Then rub the earlobes in the same way for thirty times until the ears feel hot.
3. The neck: Massage the depression next to the mastoid process behind the ear (point Anmian, which literally means “sleeping point”) with the palmer aspect of the index finger, rubbing and kneading for fifteen times. Then massage with four fingers along the outer side of the sternocleidomastoid muscle from top to bottom for twenty times. The massage may be done with strength but not too fast until there is a feeling of pressure in the neck .
4. The abdomen: This massage is best practiced before sleep. Take a supine position, rub the palms until they are hot, and massage the abdomen in a clockwise direction with one palm for twenty times and then counterclockwise for another twenty times. Use the left and right palms alternately. Massage of the abdomen can not only cure insomnia but also strengthen the stomach and promote digestion. Thus, it is particularly helpful for insomnia patients with gastric troubles.
5. The center of the sole of the foot: This massage can be done while washing your feet. First, heat your feet including the ankles with hot water (about 50~C). After the feet become red and hyperemic with dilated capillaries, massage the bilateral Yongquan (K 1), the center of the sole of the foot, with the palmer aspect of both thumbs for ninety times. This can regulate the liver function, strengthen the stomach, help induce sleep and promote health
Of the above-mentioned five types of massage, the first three can be done in the daytime, whereas the last two are better performed before sleep. To keep your mind focused and concentrated, count the number of massage strokes as you practise. If you Practice self massage every day, insomnia will surely be alleviated. Of course, yon also have to pay attention to your emotional state, diet and daily life and avoid overstrain and over-fatigue.
None of these self -massage techniques can beat the idea of relaxing while someone else massages your sore spots, but any of them can do in a pinch!