Of course, it’d be the ultimate dream to get a weekly massage. A standing, non-negotiable appointment to have your entire body released of tension, stress, and tightness sounds like incredible luxury … because it is. It’s not feasible time-wise, or accessible finance-wise for most people, especially those of us with a lot of tension.
But fear not. We can still release tight muscles in the comfort of our own homes using tricks and tools meant for our bodies, and some meant for something completely different. It’s about consistency and ingenuity.
For those super tight knots in the upper back, try laying down on the ground and rolling the knot out on a tennis ball or—even firmer—a lacrosse ball, if these are things you have lying around. Not into sports? You can purchase a firm ball made specifically for massage purposes. Roll in small circles, staying put on any section that feels extra tight or tender.
Trigger point massage hooks are another great option for customizable pressure, since you have great leverage to pull on the handle and get as deep and firm as you need. Ah, sweet relief.
An extremely enjoyable way to relieve tension in the neck, traps muscle, and jaw is to apply some body or facial oil for some slip and then use your gua sha tool with a little extra firm pressure. Light pressure is great for lymphatic drainage; medium pressure is great for sculpting the face; but firm pressure is key for that sticky muscle tension.
Start at the back of the neck, with the notch in your tool straddling the spine. With the gua sha flat against the skin, scrape upward toward the base of your skull and give a little wiggle at that point to release. Use the long edge of the tool for the sides of the neck, and start at the top near your ear, using a downstroke. Wiggle the thin side of the tool under your jaw, then lay the tool flat while using a downstroke toward your collarbone for the front of the neck. Use the notch to move from the chin to the ear along the jaw to relieve that area.
A true hack, this one requires a kitchen tool. While most of us keep our rolling pin in a drawer or as old-timey decor, bust it out on the yoga mat. The handles give you great leverage to roll out any area of the leg, so you don’t have to maneuver your body over a foam roller and hope you hit the right area. Sit upright and roll out your lower extremities like you’re making pain au chocolat, paying extra attention to meaty areas like calves and quads.
The butt requires a little extra pressure, and the knots are sporadic, so for this we suggest going back to the lacrosse or myofascial release ball. Find the knots and roll only ever so slightly on them—minimal movement. You can even stay still as you release the weight of your body onto the ball, helping to add pressure and release that knotted tension.
For the hips, we like having that leverage and control again, but the rolling pin is too intense and bulky. Opt for something more precise for hip flexors, groin, and sciatic region, and use a body roller like this multi-use roller or this cooling and energetically infused rose quartz body roller to iron out tightness.
For a relaxing, full-body release, acupressure is the best way to truly unwind. Nail all spots at once while you lie back and listen to music or a podcast or watch TV on an acupressure mat. It gently stimulates your energetic meridians to coax your muscles—and mind—into deep relaxation.
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