Archive for Self-Massage

Massage Yourself: Self Lymphatic Drainage for the Legs

When I walk in crowds, or people watch at a concert, I inevitably find myself watching the way people move and what their bodies look like. In summer, when it’s hot and everyone wears shorts or skirts, I notice swelling in the legs/ankles and foot. This time of year, in the heat, many people have swollen ankles and feet, especially.

Swelling and edema in the legs can be incredibly uncomfortable and I’ve had a lot of requests for a lymphatic drainage routine for the legs. I’ve put together a video that demonstrates how to work on the legs, but there’s an important piece of information you’ll need to understand. In order to move fluid in the body, you must make space for that fluid further up the line. Because the lymphatic system is a dynamic fluid system, you need to open up areas close to the drains so that fluid can siphon up higher in the system toward the main drains. For legs, that means you must get movement in the neck and throughout the abdomen.

So, to perform this drainage technique on yourself, you’ll need to work on the neck first, then the lymphatic breathing, then abdomen/torso, and finally this leg routine. If you have severe edema, lipodema, or long-standing swelling issues from an unknown cause, you’ll want to work with your physician before trying this on yourself. Keep in mind that you will be using extremely light pressure, and very slow movements. This is light massage, but can make powerful changes throughout the body.

There are important contraindications to lymphatic drainage massage:

As with all lymphatic drainage massage, there are contraindications. While it is a light form of massage, it is very powerful and can have a broad effect on the body. Note that if you are pregnant, you can safely perform the lymphatic breathing routine, but should not perform the routine in the second abdominal video where there is manipulation of and pressing down on the abdomen.

While it doesn’t feel invasive or deep, LDM can have a profound effect on the body because of its function within the immune system and its use of the circulatory system. If you have any of these conditions or problems, consult your physician before performing this on yourself:

  1. Fever, acute infection, early onset inlammatory disease. You need to wait until the acute phase is over and the fever is broken.
  2. Circulatory system problems, especially thrombosis. If there is any risk of embolism of phlebitis, do not use LDM and see your physician immediately
  3. Cardiac issues such as heart disease, acute angina pectoris or coronary thrombosis (heart attack). Using LDM increases the fluid load on the heart, and compromised cardiac systems should not be subjected to LDM.
  4. Active bleeding, internal or external.
  5. Active malignant cancers, undiagnosed lumps, or tumors whose origins have not been determined by your physician.
  6. High risk pregnancy or late term pregnancy with complications

Contraindications specific to the abdominal and leg routine are abdominal aneurism or thrombosis/phlebitis.

Comments (1)

Self-Massage for the Calf and Lower Leg

All you basketball players, tennis players, runners, cyclists, and skaters had better bookmark this one. I’ve put together a quick self-massage routine for the lower leg that’s great for all kinds of athletes, and also people who are on their feet all day. Teachers, nurses, (ahem) massage therapists, doctors and anyone standing for long portions of the day will love how this makes your legs feet. And, if you’re in heels all day, or have to wear heels on a concrete floor (ouch), this can do wonders for your tired and aching feet and legs.

There is a critical contraindication: Do not use these techniques if you have DVT (deep vein thrombosis, blood clot) or have been diagnosed with vericose veins.

As always, check out the other videos on my site if you’d like to learn some self massage or couples massage tips.  Anyone looking for a Louisville massage can book at my website: MassageByHeather.com

Comments (2)

“Look Ma, No Hands” Massage

The unfortunate thing about self-massage is that you have to use your hands and fingers to work on yourself. When the problem area is your forearms or hands, it can be tricky to figure out a way to relieve the tension in the area without further compromising your hands and arms. But I recently started working on my own forearms in a way that minimizes the use of the hands and fingers and still feels fabulous.

I call it the “Look Ma, No Hands” Massage. I’ve been doing a lot of painting and home improvement projects lately, and use this technique to relieve pain and discomfort from the forearms. This is great for pain/tension/soreness from gardening, weeding, home improvement, painting – anything that requires fine motor movements of the hands. Because the primary muscles that move the hands and fingers reside in the forearm, work on the forearm is the easiest way to relieve pressure.

So take a peek at my latest YouTube video here and try it out. All you need is a flat surface and you can perform this technique on  yourself.

 

And if you still need more massage after working on yourself, come see me in Louisville for massage!

Comments (1)

Squeeze the Feet to Kill the Headache

foot massage

Sounds a little crazy, huh? Press on my feet and affect an unrelated part of the body? Clear my sinuses? Relieve my headache? Crazytalk!

It may seem like hocuspocus, but there is a long tradition of reflexology which does just that. It associates certain parts of the foot with very specific parts of the body, and massage to the foot location (the reflex) affects changes throughout the entire body. I didn’t think much of reflexology until I saw it work on me and my clients.

Physiologically, it’s not clear what mechanism connects reflex points on the feet to various organs and areas of the body, but reflexologists build a career out of treating people through work on their feet, hands or ears (which also have reflexes much like the feet). I’ve seen it relieve sinus pressure and clear the head, help with headaches and migraines, relieve constipation, reduce bladder issues, help digestion, ease stomach cramps, and help with allergies. Reflexology may seem a little “out there,” but for a lot of people, its an easy and effective way to use self-massage to improve health and wellness.

So what are some good spots to know for working on the head and neck?

Reflexes Mirrored on the Toes

The pads of the toes are thought to represent the head while the necks of the toes are thought to mirror the body’s neck. Specific reflexology techniques are applied to all sides of the toes including the toenails.

Focus work on the toes would encourage a relaxed mind, release muscle tension in the neck and reduce discomfort in the face and scalp.

  • Toenails – are stimulated for the back of the head which includes the scalp.
  • Tips of the toes – are stimulated for sinus congestion.
  • Pads of the toes – are stimulated for the mouth – the teeth, gums, and jaw.
  • Pad of the great toes – are stimulated for the brain including the Hypothalamus and Pituitary gland reflexes.
  • Necks of the toes – are stimulated for the neck, throat, breathing airway or trachea.

via Cranial and Neck Reflex Areas in Reflexology | Suite101.com.

Head over to the above link for more information, and if you’d like to try a little reflexology, give me a heads up before your next massage in Louisville or Nashville.  I can save time during the session and make sure to work the reflexes most effective for your issues.

photo credit: sxc.hu user dcarson924

Comments

Abdominal Lymph Drainage Part 2

Last week we covered a great technique called Lymphatic Breathing that helps pull fluid from the legs and trunk. This week, we continue that same routine, and move to performing some light lymphatic manipulation of the abdomen, using light pressure on the belly to affect the fluid in the torso and legs.

I’ve found this technique to be a wonderful way to reduce feeling “full” or “heavy” in the torso. It’s also helped, in conjunction with the breathing we showed in part 1 (Reduce the Bloat! Abdominal Lymphatic Massage), reduce swelling in my ankles, legs and feet. It improves digestions, softens the bowels and clients tend to report that it eases stomach issues as well.

Lymphatic work is very light in terms of pressure.  Also, I can’t overstate the importance of the lymphatic breathing in part 1 – it is CRITICAL to pulling fluid up out of the legs and torso.

This technique has the same contraindications of as the previous lymphatic drainage, so look back to this entry before you try this on yourself.  If you are pregnant, you can perform the lymphatic breathing technique, but do not perform these abdominal manipulation techniques.

As always, those seeking massage in Louisville can try these techniques out on the table before trying them on one’s self. Just let me know you’re interested in the abdomen work in your next session and you’ll be able to see how it feels.

Comments

Reduce the Bloat! Lymphatic Drainage for the Abdomen and Legs

Navel

You know that runny nose you get, the fever you get with an infection or the heat and redness at an injury site? All of these are reactions of the immune system, and more specifically the lymphatic system.

My lymphatic drainage massage for the head and ears are popular views on my YouTube Channel (MassageByHeatherW) and I wanted to introduce you to lymphatic massage on the abdomen and trunk.

Bloating, edema or swelling in the abdomen, a feeling of fullness or constriction all signal an overabundance of lymphatic fluid in the trunk and abdomen. This technique can help reduce that swelling and fullness and will also pull fluid up from the legs and feet if you experience swelling there.

It’s All About the Breathing. Seriously.

The most important piece of this self-massage routine is covered in the first video: lymphatic breathing.  It’s a very specific kind of inhalation and exhalation designed to use the movement of the diaphragm and lungs to encourage drainage of lymph from the trunk and legs back up into the main thoracic lymphatic duct and the subclavian vein at the neck area.

There’s a simple rule for it: Belly First.  On the inhalation and exhalation the belly goes first. When breathing in, breath into the belly first, and expand the abdomen as much as you can, then pull air upward into the chest, filling the upper thoracic area.  Once you’ve finished inhaling, exhale from the belly first.  Release air from deep in the lungs and feel your belly fall until it’s empty, then release air from the upper chest/ribcage.

Remember, Belly First on inhale and on exhale.

This method of breathing is incredibly successful in reducing edema, swelling and fluid retention in the trunk and abdomen. It seems too good to be true, but it’s as effective, if not more effective at pulling fluid from the trunk than what we’ll cover in the second video, which will be manipulation of abdominal area.

Contraindications for Lymphatic Drainage Massage

As with all lymphatic drainage massage, there are contraindications. While it is a light form of massage, it is very powerful and can have a broad effect on the body. Note that if you are pregnant, you can safely perform the lymphatic breathing routine (this first video), but should do perform the routine in the second video where there is manipulation of and pressing down on the abdomen.

While it doesn’t feel invasive or deep, LDM can have a profound effect on the body because of its function within the immune system and its use of the circulatory system. If you have any of these conditions or problems, consult your physician before performing this on yourself:

  1. Fever, acute infection, early onset inlammatory disease. You need to wait until the acute phase is over and the fever is broken.
  2. Circulatory system problems, especially thrombosis. If there is any risk of embolism of phlebitis, do not use LDM and see your physician immediately
  3. Cardiac issues such as heart disease, acute angina pectoris or coronary thrombosis (heart attack). Using LDM increases the fluid load on the heart, and compromised cardiac systems should not be subjected to LDM.
  4. Active bleeding, internal or external.
  5. Active malignant cancers, undiagnosed lumps, or tumors whose origins have not been determined by your physician.
  6. High risk pregnancy or late term pregnancy with complications

Contraindications specific to the abdominal routine are abdominal aneurism or thrombosis/phlebitis.

As always, massage in Louisville in Saint Matthews and in Nashville in Brentwood available if you’d like to try these techniques out in your next session.

Photo credit sxc.hu user: EdwinP

Comments (5)

Good Weather + Gardening = Ouch! Gardener’s Massage Tips

Spring’s finally here: the weather improves and we want to get out and work in the yard! After this past winter, I couldn’t wait to spend some time cleaning up the garden beds, spreading mulch, and clearing out the yard.

The only problem is the day after all that work, my body let me know I should have been more careful. I have some massage and stretching tricks up my sleeve that I use to repair myself and want to share the same with you.

So, here’s your video for the week – in two parts.  The first has hand and arm self-massage tricks.

This second video has a great low back stretch/opener for use after hauling lots of bags of dirt and mulch, a good stretch for hamstrings and pecs.

Comments (1)

Soothing Facial Massage for Insomnia

Getting some good ZZZs this week with the acupressure video from earlier this week?  Time for part two of the video posts for National Sleep Awareness week.

We use the face constantly, whether we’re communicating with other people all day, or whether we’re sitting in front of a computer screen.  Your face is a primary means of communicating with others, and at the end of a long day, you may not feel how much tension you’re holding in your face.

Here’s a single tip that will make a huge difference in how relaxed your face feels.  Unglue your tongue from the roof of the mouth, where it usually sits, and let the tip of your tongue just rest loosely behind your upper teeth.  Can you feel the difference in the tension in your face?  For me it makes a huge difference.

One thing that contributes to insomnia and sleeping issues is stress.  We carry a lot of stress in our faces, whether we are aware of it or not.  So, take a minute to view this video and melt away the tension in your face.  Very often, relaxing the face will allow the rest of the body to release tension. Sweet dreams.

Comments (3)

Massage for Insomnia: You’re Only 9 Acupressure Points from a Good Night’s Sleep

Trouble sleeping? Instead of flopping around the bed, watching the minutes click back as you try to sleep, try some of these acupressure points.

In honor of National Sleep Awareness week this week, I’ve done a little research and put together two videos for you. The first shows acupressure points to assist with insomnia, and the second a very relaxing face massage you can do on yourself.

I culled these points from research online and from using the book Acupressure’s Potent Points, one of my favorite books about acupressure. It’s not a dense, theoretical account of acupressure, but it’s a quick reference guide with pictures and the purpose of points included for different problems and symptoms.

Use these acupressure techniques while in bed, as a way to relax and prepare you for sleep.  The feet points outlined below especially help with insomnia.

Here’s the video to use, but for more information on the specific points see below:

Bladder 10 – At the nape of the neck 1-2 inches out from the spine between the spine and the thick ropey muscles on either side (trapezius/paraspinalis muscles):

Location of UB 10

Gall Bladder 20 – Great point for insomnia and anxiety/nervousness late at night. Put your fingers in the hairline, sweep out laterally 2-3 inches, until your fingers fall into the small hollows at the base of the skull:

Location of GB 20

Governing Vessel 16 – Run your fingers up the spine until they rest in the hollow where the spine and skull intersect, an inch or two up into the scalp.  GV 16 is in that divot:

Location of GV 16

Heart 7 – On the ulnar (pinky) side of the inner forearm of the wrist crease where the ulna connects into the wrist. This point is excellent for emotional issues, sleep issues, anxiety and worry:

Location of Ht 7

Pericardium 6 – Two and a half finger-widths down from the wrist crease in the center of the inside of the forearm. This point, also used commonly for nausea, is effective in lessening anxiety, worry and fear:

Location of Pe 6

Kidney 6 – Find the inside of your ankle with your thumb, then drop your thumb to just below the ankle bone. This is a very common acupoint used for sleep issues and insomnia:

Kidney 6 Location

Bladder 62 – On the outside of the ankle find the outside “bump” that makes up the ankle.  Go toward the ground so that your fingers rest on the hollow directly below the “bump” you were just on.  Excellent point for night-time worries and anxiety as well as insomnia:

UB 62 Location

These last two points are held together at the same time.  Together, they are very calming and quiet the mind.

Governing vessel 24.5 – The third-eye point, this point is just between your eyebrows, in the middle of the two.  You will feel a small notch or divot under your finger as you find this point.  Hold in tandem with CV 17 below for 1 – 2 minutes:

Location of GV 24.5 Conception vessel 17 – This point is about 3-4 fingers up from the bottom of the breastbone, at the same level as the nipples and directly in the center of the chest and sternum.  Hold together with GV 24.5 for 1 – 2 minutes.

Location of CV 17

Comments

Calgon 2.0: 5 Minute Hand Spa at your Desk

Need a “Calgon, take me away!” moment? Try this 5 minute hand massage and let your hands relax the rest of you.

I created this video as a way to give daily relief to clients who spend their days on the computer, or who, like me, use their hands all their day at work. I use a lot of these techniques between clients, in fact, to keep up good blood flow in the hands and to counter any stiffness I feel when I wake up in the morning.

At the end of the video, I demonstrate two acupressure points to use to destress and calm the mind. For the point on the pinky finger, I mistakenly describe the point as being on the outside of the pinky nail, when really it is just beyond the inner (thumb side) of the base of the pinky nail. But, if you squeeze the nail as I demonstrate in the video, you’ll be hitting both sides at once.

Enjoy!

Comments