4 Self-Massage Techniques

Cynthia Dermody
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homedics spot massager
A spot massager

I need a back massage badly right now, but my personal masseuse is out trying to put food on the table so I'm out of luck. Because this is often the case, I've devised several self-messaging tactics to help relieve those annoying tension knots in my neck, shoulders and back. It's not as good as the real thing, but it's a close third or maybe two-and-a-half.

1. An Electric Spot Massager

I've tried lots of these in the big bed and bath stores, and the good ones are either too expensive and bulky, or so powerful I got dizzy from the vibration. The one I found that best simulates real hands is the Shiatsu Spot Massaging Cushion from HoMedics. It's pictured above. This is an older model, not sold anymore, but HoMedics makes a similar version in its Shiatsu Lumbar Messaging Cushion for $40.

2. Golf ball (or plastic Easter Egg)

So, I can't lug this big black thing with me to work every day, plus my co-workers would not appreciate that constant rar-rar-rar sound, so I keep a golf ball in my desk. When possible, I place it on the floor and lie down on it. Then I gently roll over it to work out the knot. An alternative is a plastic Easter egg, which you use with your hands, not lie down on, because it will break. The wide part makes it easy to hold, and the narrow end is the perfect shape to work into the tight spots of your back.

3. File cabinet or corner of a wall

That straight line fits perfectly underneath the shoulder blade. I hook my blade on the corner and then jiggle back and forth to really get under there, pausing at times for a good stretch.

4. Stretches

A physical therapist once taught me these: I'll reach each arm around the front of my torso and grab the opposite shoulder blade, tugging gently front and down. Then I'll reach clasp my hands behind my back and with arms straight, lift them up and back, pushing my shoulders down to maximize the stretch. Finally I'll sit up straight, let my arms fall slack, and slowly and purposely drop my chin to my chest, focusing on the back of my neck. Then I'll repeat to both sides.

I just used all four of these tactics right now to figure out how to describe them to you, and I can't tell you how much better my back feels.

How do you relieve a sore and knotted back when your human back massager is not around?

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