Last week on my Facebook page, I posted an article from a fabulous blog I’d recently found. The author of the blog is Joachim Zuther, a lymphedema specialist who started the first school for lymphedema treatment in the US. Because I have some videos on lymphatic drainage massage techniques you can use on yourself on my blog, I get a lot of questions from people through email, YouTube and Facebook asking for additional resources. To that end, I’ve used the article, “Decongestive and Breathing Exercises for Lymphedema” as a source to demonstrate the techniques he describes in the article.
As always, before doing these techniques, you must consult with your lymphedema specialist and your health care team to determine if these techniques should be a part of your self-care routine. Your specialist can custom design a set of exercises for you based on the area affected by your lymphedema, other associated symptoms or issues you’re having and other conditions you may have.
These exercises may be only part of what your lymphedema specialist creates for your treatment plan. You may also be asked to do some self-lymphatic massage or some strengthening exercises to create a comprehensive treatment plan.
The most important thing you can do is to add the deep diaphragm breathing to your day. This one technique, breathing deep into the belly, uses the diaphragm muscle to facilitate lymphatic flow in the both torso and the lower half of the body – pulling fluid up into the main lymphatic duct in the abdomen.
In my last post, “Easy Relief for Eye Strain” I covered a relaxation technique to use for individuals with eye strain. The technique is less a massage technique and more a touch-assisted relaxation technique. In it you use the fingers as a point of focus to relax and open the tissues around the eye. This video will cover how to do the same with the jaw.
Many people come in to see me with jaw issues. Some of been diagnosed with TMJ syndrome, others grind their teeth at night. Still others have problems with tension and pain in the jaw referred from other areas – the back of the skull or the lateral/anterior neck. What’s common in all these cases is that the jaw muscles and the muscles around the mouth become tense and tight over time.
While self-massage of the jaw is an excellent option to treat these issues (see my video about “Acupressure Points for TMJ Syndrome”), another way to relieve tension in the face and jaw is to use this relaxation technique.
Just as we did for eye strain, you’ll place your fingers at different points on the jaw and face, and take a deep breath. As you inhale and exhale become aware of all the tension stored underneath your fingers and let it drain out from under your touch as you exhale.
A very important component to this technique is keeping the tongue relaxed in the mouth. Think about where you tongue is in your mouth right this moment. Glued to the roof of your mouth? Now relax the tongue and pull it away from the top of your mouth. Now, touch just the tip of your tongue to just behind your front teeth and let it rest softly there.
Did if feel like your face melted a bit? Now, while that’s relaxed, take a few moments to try this technique to relearn what “relaxed” feels like to your jaw, mouth and face.
Who doesn’t have eye strain these days? Whether it’s from hours spent staring at a monitor, or trying to read itty-bitty text on our itty-bitty smartphones, almost everyone has days when their eyes feel tired. For those of you who regularly suffer from eye strain from hours spent staring at small text, or screens or bitty items, I’ve got an easy relaxation technique.
This is not a traditional massage technique. I’ll demonstrate how to use light touch of the fingers around the outside and just inside the eye orbit to release tension in the face. By using the breath as you bring your awareness to where your fingers are, you release the tension held in the tissue. In a way, it feels as if your face is melting. When you let go of the tension around your eyes and face you’ll feel your cheeks drop a little bit, your forehead widen and your jaw loosen.
If you have time to do this while laying down, you’ll get the most benefit from it if your head can be in a relaxed and supported position when you try it. But, even if you do this while sitting at your desk, if you take the time to breathe and focus on releasing the muscles, you’ll feel great relief from eye strain.
If you don’t have time to do the whole exercise, just do this one thing: take a deep breath in, loosen the tongue from the roof of your mouth and place the tip of your tongue just behind the top teeth with the tongue loosened in the mouth. Usually this causes relaxation throughout the eyes and forehead as well as the jaw.
Take some time to try out this technique. It’s easy on the hands, easy to do and very effective as a relaxation exercise.
The start of a new year always brings with it resolutions. But in reality, all resolutions are about one thing: improving yourself. Whether it’s improving your body, improving your emotional health, improving your career or improving your relationships with others, it’s almost always all about growth.
One easy way to improve your body, your health and your life is self-care. Whether you come to see me for self-care and getting the kinks out to work on chronic issues, or if you use self-massage, stretching or couples massage, start making time in your schedule for you. In as little as 5 minutes a day you can make a noticeable difference in your body and your flexibility and pain levels.
There’s a huge range of problems and issues massage can be used to ease. In fact, I have videos for quite a number of them:
And if part of your resolution concerns your relationship with others, what about using massage as a means to help others in your circle? You could soothe a stressful day with a fantastic foot massage, or give someone a sensational face massage. Something as simple as a scalp massage or forehead/ear massage can make a huge difference to the receiver of the massage.
Massage can be something done every day as a part of your routine to take care of yourself. It’s easy, effective, and keeps the body moving. In the end, isn’t that what we all want for the next year – to keep moving?
We’ve done all sorts of work on the face, and it’s time to finish out the facial massage. Your partner on the table, by now, is probably so relaxed they don’t have any tight muscle in her face, let alone her whole body! If you’ve started the series in the middle, take a few minutes to start from the beginning and use these facial massage techniques to relax and soothe your partner with a long facial. (Start here: 12 Days of Facial Massage – Opening)
I hope you’ve enjoyed the series. I’ve enjoyed sharing it with you. I don’t usually get to do this much concentrated work on the face, so it was fun for me to put this together for you.
Here’s your closing sequence. You can also use it as a stand alone facial massage that’s just soothing and calming for your partner:
Ready for more time on the jaw and mouth? For many people with high-stress positions or situations, the jaw holds in the stress that can’t be seen by others. Sometimes people grind their teeth at night. Other times they clench their teeth during the day, causing extreme tension that can lead to TMJ disorder, tooth pain or mouth/jaw soreness and aches. While it’s hard to break the habit, there is proactive work you can do on yourself or on your partner in order to relieve the tension that builds up there.
We’re close to the end of the facial massage series, and we’ve only got two major areas of the face we haven’t covered. In this video, I’ll show you how to work around the nose. This massage is helpful when you’ve got some sinus issues or when you’re recovering from a cold.
So we’ve just finished working on the ear, and now we’re going to do some work on the cheeks. The cheeks contain many of the muscles used in making expressions, so they get a huge workout during the day. Let’s spend some time on them.
The ears may seem like just a sensory input device, but the fact is that many of the muscles of the neck, head and face connect together or overlap at or near the ears. As a result, work on the ears has positive benefits to the neck, head, and face. It can also assist with sinus issues since it’s tied into the sinus cavities in the skull as well. Reflexology and Tradition Chinese Medicine both see the ears as a map of the human body, with corresponding areas for each organ, body part and system.
It’s not surprising, then, that ear work is a huge favorite. I’ll be honest, it can sound a little loud in your ear when working on the ear itself, but when you work around the ear and at all the attachment sites, it feels heavenly.
After working on the forehead yesterday (12 Days of Facial Massage – Forehead), I’m sure you’re ready to do a little work around the eyes. In today’s video, I’ll show you how to massage the brows and work on more of the muscles around the eyes that you use all day to make expressions and communicate. The work around the eyes is wonderful and can really help with headaches and sinus issues.
Louisville massage therapist Heather Wibbels, LMT has been showing clients how massage helps since 2003. Her Saint Matthews massage therapy practice is centered around chronic pain, stress-relief and injury work.
This blog is Heather's way to reach a wider world than those she can lay hands on, and self-massage and partner massage videos are a large part of that. View her YouTube Channel at MassageByHeatherW: