The Self Massage Therapy is a part of Manual therapy, which was define by Korr (1978) as the “Application of an accurately determined and specifically directed manual force to the body, in order to improve mobility in areas that are restricted; in joints, in connective tissues or in skeletal muscles.”
As described in my previous article, manual therapy is important for all kinds of musculotendinous injuries. It helps to relieve muscle tension, improve blood circulation, reinforce tendon healing and alleviate your pain.
Among all the manual therapy techniques, self massage therapy is something we can do for ourselves at home!
⭐ Massage Cane
Massage cane is one of the best self-massage tool for your neck, shoulder & back area, it allows you to reach for the muscles which are difficult to release by yourself. For a complete guide of using the cane, you can visit Thera Cane website.
⭐ Foam Roller
Foam roller is an exercise device for self-massage and fitness. You utilize your own weight when rolling on the foam log, it helps to roll out tight muscles and relieving the tension effectively, especially useful for your lower extremities and back area.
⭐ Massage Cups
Cupping is also a great massage tool! You can use glass cups (with fire), suction cups (with a suction gun) or silicon cups. It became well-known since our Olympian Michael Phelps showed his red circles in the game.
In theory, cupping helps to decompress your tight tissue, and the suction effect forces blood supply to the area, which leads to better healing and muscle tension release. For self cupping therapy, I recommend silicon cupping as it is safer and easier to use!
**However, prolonged cupping therapy may cause burns (with fire cupping) or severe bruises, I always recommend people try only 10-15 seconds at first, monitor your skin’s reaction, then proceed to a longer cupping.
⭐ Tennis Ball
Surprisingly, “tennis ball” can be your self-deep tissue massage tool! All you need is a tennis ball and a wall. ? Check it out!
Tennis ball or golf ball is also a great tool for foot massage!
Gua-Sha ( or scrapping) is a traditional Chinese medical treatment in which the skin is scraped to produce light bruising.
In theory, this technique helps to breakdown the fibrotic tissue related to chronic inflammation or prolonged muscle tightness. It effectively facilitate blood circulation over the crapped area, which can promote better healing.
A study published in Pain Medicine (2011) also showed that gua sha significantly decreased chronic neck pain (compared to heat therapy as a control group) after one week intervention.
＊Last but not the least, all the self massage therapy techniques should NOT be applied over open wounds, signs of infections or fragile skin area. You should always STOP self-massage and consult with your healthcare professional if it creates more pain and discomfort.
Braun, et al. “Effectiveness of Traditional Chinese ‘Gua Sha’ Therapy in Patients with Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Control Trial” Pain Medicine 2011; 12:362-369
Andrew believes rehab-related knowledge should be easy to learn and follow at home, because "knowledge is power only when we can share it" !