Self Massage Tips
Do you spend time self massaging to recover from activity or injury?
Our #1 tip is to breathe well during any sort of tissue release. Deep, full breaths during massage communicates the message to your nervous system that you are safe and it's ok to relax, helping to release tissue tension more effectively.
How long should you self massage?
Generally we recommend 5-10 minutes a day, massaging slowly and focusing on muscle trigger points for 30-60 seconds. Provide pressure but try to not be too aggressive so you loosen the tissue rather than bruise the tissue.
What should you focus on when you are massaging injured muscles?
Explore around the tissue and find muscle "trigger points" (tight bands of tissue that feel like a knot in the muscle). Trigger points can cause local or referred pain to other areas, and pressure should create a "melting release" of dysfunctional tissue. You won't find any trigger points over bones or tendinous areas, so stay within the belly of the muscle (meaty tissue).
What should you feel during self-massage?
Often people think of massage as relaxing, and it should be! But don’t be surprised when a muscle trigger point is quite sore and tender. The soreness comes from muscle tissue ischemia, which basically means the area of the muscle trigger point isn’t getting adequate blood flow. When you put pressure on the disorganized/tight fibers you are causing the tiny blood vessels to dilate, bringing blood flow and oxygen. The pressure creates a chemical change in the tissue and a change in the brain/nervous system which allows the muscle to release. Be sure to relax around the intense sensations. You will sometimes feel sore even after the massage because there is a release of stored waste products in the stagnant tissue.
What should you feel after you self massage?
Ideally, some tissue release resulting in less pain and greater range of motion. Soreness can sometimes happen and is ok, but should resolve within 24 hours (otherwise you may have caused more damage than help). Make sure to be gentle with yourself in massage as less pressure for longer amounts of time can often help tissues release more effectively.