An At-Home Guide to Reduce Muscle Tension

  • At-Home Health   •   April 10, 2020

By Alex MacPhee, RMT


hile we are all unable to seek professional healthcare treatment for our aches and pains, I have created an at-home self-massage regime to help you implement easy-to-do techniques yourself. While self-massage is not necessarily as effective as receiving a professional massage, it can aid in relieving stress, muscle pain and tension while we are all abiding by social distancing measures and staying home.

To begin, it is important that you apply an effective amount of pressure where it feels uncomfortable, but it is not unbearable. It is also important to remember to soothe your muscles with a hot bath or shower if you feel sore afterwards. Another tip is that these massage techniques can be applied all over your body and not just the areas I am showing. Let’s begin!

1) For Relief of Headaches and/or Jaw Pain:

  • Begin by placing both your index and middle fingers on your temples and start by doing circular motions moving along the sides and top of your head.
  • Then, continue down to do the same motion along your jaw and cheek bones to help reduce any built-up tension in your jaw.
  • While applying pressure around your jaw, you can slowly open your mouth all the way to induce a stretch at the same time.
  • Be careful not to apply too much pressure and you may use some lotion to create less friction and pulling on your skin.
  • By moving the points of contact on your temples and jaw, you should be able to work on as many as 12-15 unique areas, taking you about 2-3 minutes in total.

2) To Release The Intrinsic Muscles of the Foot:

  • Begin by placing a ball under your foot. You may do this one while seated or do it standing for a deeper pressure.
  • You may start by using a tennis ball, but you will likely want to progress to using a harder ball, such as a lacrosse or street hockey ball to provide better depth and pressure.
  • Roll the ball back and forth specifically targeting the arch of your foot. Try to avoid too much pressure directly over the heel bone or forefoot at the base of your toes.
  • This technique is especially beneficial if you’re a runner or suffer from plantar fasciitis. You may also use a golf ball to get a more targeted outcome.
  • After you roll for about 2-3 minutes, stretch the arch of foot by pulling all 5 toes back with your hands. You can do all 5 toes at the same time or individually to achieve a greater amount of relative movement between the muscles and tendons that control toe motion.

3) Improving Your Low Back Mobility:

  • As many of us have begun sitting and laying down more, we have begun experiencing some low back tension and pain.
  • There is two ways you can accomplish this technique to release the muscles of your low back – by using a foam roller across the entire low back or by using a ball (lacrosse, street hockey) to roll the tissues on either side of the spine.
  • Begin by placing either the roller or ball between your low back and the floor and start moving your body up and down. If using a ball, you can also move side to side and in circular motions, being sure to not put direct pressure over your spine or pelvic bone. Controlling how much body weight you allow to relax on top of the roller/ball by using your arms and one foot to resist gravity.
  • You may also use a ball to alleviate tension in your buttocks as performing the same motions. Make sure that the thigh and leg that corresponds to the buttocks that is being rolled out remains flat and relaxed on the floor.

Be creative with your rolling and take advantage of the changes you’ve created in the tissues by following your rolling with exercise, static stretching, or both!

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